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OCT 31 1975 



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CONTENTS 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON\ o 

AND FANNY OSBOURNEJ ' 

JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD . 47 

WILLIAM GODWIN AND MARY\ M 

WOLLSTONECRAFTJ ' ' 

DANTE AND BEATRICE . . . 109 

JOHN STUART MILL AND\ 141 
HARRIET TAYLOR/ " * 

PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA . . 173 

PETRARCH AND LAURA . . . .207 

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND\ 74 , 

ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDALJ " ^ 

BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA . . 275 

FENELON AND MADAME GUYON . 311 

FERDINAND LASSALLE AND\ 

HELENE VON DONNIGESJ " * 

LORD NELSON AND LADY HAMILTON 397 



Cittlejournegs 

tto the Homes 

of 
0reat Coders 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 
AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell; for 
the love that unites us; for the peace accorded us this 
day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow; 
for the health, the work, the food, and the bright 
that make our lives delightful; for our friends In all 
parts of the earth, and our friendly helpers in this 
foreign isle. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet 
mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. 
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors* 
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that 
which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant 
in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes 
of fortune, and down to the gates of death loyal and 
loving one to another. 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 
AND FANNY OSBOURNE 




HERE is a libel leveled at the Scotch 
and encouraged, I am very sorry 
to say, by Chauncey Depew, when 
he told of approaching the docks 

in Glasgow and seeing the people 
on shore convulsed with laughter, 
and was told that their mirth was 
the result of one of his jokes told 

the year before, the point just being perceived. 
Bearing on the same line we have the legend that the 
adage, ** He laughs best who laughs last," was the 
invention of a Scotchman who was endeavoring to 
explain away a popular failing of his countrymen 33 
An adage seems to be a statement the reverse of which 
is true or not* In all the realm of letters, where can 
be found anything more delightfully whimsical and 
deliciously humorous than James Barrie's ** Peter 
Pan** And as a writer of exquisite humor, as opposed 
to English wit, that other Scotchman, Robert Louis 
Stevenson, stands supreme* 

To Robert Louis life was altogether too important a 
matter to be taken seriously. The quality of fine fooling 
shown in the creation of a mythical character called 
4 * John Libbel " remained with Stevenson to the end 
of Ms days. 

11 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



Stevenson never knew the value of money, because 
he was not brought up to earn money. Very early he 
was placed on a small allowance, which he found could 
be augmented by maternal embezzlements and the 
kindly co-operation of pawnbrokers. 
Once on a trip from home with his cousin he found 
they lacked just five shillings of the required amount 
to pay their fare. They boarded the train and paid as 
far as they could. The train stopped at Crewe fifteen 
minutes for lunch. Lunch is a superfluity if you have n*t 
the money to pay for it but stealing a ride in Scotland 
is out of the question. Robert Louis hastily took a pair 
of new trousers from his valise and ran up the main 
street of the town anxiously looking for a pawnshop* 
There at the end of the thoroughfare he saw the three 
glittering, welcome balls. He entered, out of breath, 
threw down the trousers and asked for five shillings* 
"What name?*' asked the pawnbroker. ** John Lib- 
bel/' was the reply, given without thought. ** How do 
you spell it?** ** Two b's! ** 

He got the five shillings and hastened back to the 
station, where his cousin Bob was anxiously awaiting 
him. Robert Louis did not have to explain that his 
little run up the street was a financial success* -that 
much was understood. But what pleased him most 
was that he had discovered a new man, a very important 
man, John Libbel, the man who made pawnbrokers 
possible, the universal client of the craft. ** You mean 
12 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



patient, not client/* interposed Bob, <JThen they 
invented the word libbelian, meaning one with pawn- 
broker inclinations, libbelattos meant the children 
of John Libbel, and so it went. 
The boys had an old font of type, and they busied them- 
selves printing cards for John Libbel, giving his name 
and supposed business and address. These they gave 
out on the street, slipped under doors, or placed myste- 
riously in the hands of fussy old gentlemen. 
Finally the boys got to ringing doorbells and asking 
if John Libbel lived within. They sought Libbel at 
hotels* stopped men on the street and asked them if 
their name was n't John Libbel, and when told no, 
apologized profusely and declared the resemblance 
most remarkable. 

They tied up packages of ashes or sawdust, very neatly 
labeled, ** Compliments of John Libbel/* and dropped 
them on the street. This was later improved on by 
sealing the 'package and marking it, ** Gold Dust, for 
Assayer's Office, from John Libbel/ * These packages 
would be placed along the street, and the youthful 
jokers would watch from doorways and see the pack- 
ages slyly slipped into pockets, or if the finder were 
honest he would hurry away to the Assayer's Office 
with his precious find to claim a reward. 
The end of this particular kind of fun came when the 
two boys walked into a shop and asked for John LibbeL 
The clerk burst out laughing and said, ** You are the 

13 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



Stevenson boys who have fooled the town!" Jokes 
explained cease to be jokes, and the young men sorrow- 
fully admitted that Labbel was dead and should be 
buried 58 58 



14 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



mathematics shelved for Smollett. Robert was 
put to studying law with a worthy barrister* 
Law is business, and to suppose that a young man 
who religiously spent his month's allowance the day 
it was received, could make a success at the bar shows 
the vain delusion that often fills the parental head* 
fl Stevenson's essay, ** A Defense of Idlers*" shows 
how no time is actually lost, not even that which Is 
idled away. But this Is a point that is very hard to 
explain to ambitious parents. 

The traditional throwing overboard of the son the day 
he is twenty-one, allowing him to sink or swim, survive 
or perish, did not prevail with the Stevensons. At 
twenty-two Robert Louis still had his one guinea a 
month, besides what he could cajole* beg or borrow 
from his father and mother. He grew to watch the 
mood of his mother, and has recorded that he never 
asked favors of his father before dinner* 
At twenty-three he sold an essay for two pounds* and 
referred gaily to himself as ** one of the most popular 
and successful essayists in Great Britain/* He was 
still a child In spirit, dependent upon others for sup- 
port. He looked like a girl with his big wide-open 
and long hair. As for society, In the society sense, he 
abhorred it and would have despised It If he had despised 
anything. The soft platitudes of people who win dis- 
tinction by being nothing, doing nothing, and saying 
nothing except what has been said before, moved him 
16 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



to mocking mirth. From childhood he was a society 
rebel. He wore his hair long, because society men had 
theirs cut close. 

His short velvet coat, negligee shirt and wide-awake 
hat were worn for no better reason. His long cloak gave 
him a look of haunting mystery, and made one think 
of a stage hero or a robber you read of in books. Motives 
are mixed, and foolish folks who ask questions about 
why certain men do certain things, do not know that 
certain men do certain things because they wish to, 
and leave to others the explanation of the whyness of 
the wherefore. 

People who always dress, talk and act alike do so for 
certain reasons well understood, but the man who does 
differently from the mass is not so easy to analyze 
and formulate. 

The feminine quality in Robert Louis* nature shows 
itself in that he fled the company of women, and with 
them held no converse if he could help it. He never 
wrote a love-story* and once told Crockett that if he 
ever dared write one it would be just like " The Lilac 
Sunbonnet.** J$ JS 

Yet it will not do to call Stevenson effeminate, even. 
if he was feminine. He had a courage that outmatched 
his physique. Once in a cafe in France, a Frenchman 
made the remark that the English were a nation of 
cowards 53 $5 

The words had scarcely passed his lips before Robert 

17 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



Stevenson boys who have fooled the town! " Jokes 
explained cease to be jokes, and the young men sorrow- 
fully admitted that Libbel was dead and should be 
buried S& 33 



14 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 




PBERT LOUIS was an only son, and alter- 
nately was disciplined and then humored, 
as only sons usually are. 
His father was a civil engineer in the employ 
of the Northern Lights Company, and it was his busi- 
ness to build and inspect lighthouses. At his office used 
to congregate a motley collection of lighthouse-keepers, 
retired sea-captains, mates out of a job and with these 
sad dogs of the sea little Robert used to make close and 
confidential friendships. 

While he was yet a child he made the trip to Italy with 
his mother, and brought back from Rome and from 
Venice sundry crucifixes, tear-bottles and ** Saint 
Josephs/" all duly blessed, and these he sold to his 
companions at so many whacks apiece. That is to 
say, the purchaser had to pay for the gift by accepting 
on his bare hand a certain number of whacks with a 
leather strap* If the recipient winced, he forfeited the 
present 3$ <$S 

The boy was flat-chested and spindle-shanked and 
used to bank on his physical weakness when lessons 
were to be evaded* He was two years at the Edinburgh 
Academy, where he reduced the cutting of lectures and 
recitations to a system, and substituted Dumas and 
Scott for more learned men who prepared books for 
the sole purpose of confounding boys* 
As for making an engineer of the young man, the stern, 
practical father grew utterly discouraged when he saw 

15 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



mathematics shelved for Smollett. Robert was then 
put to studying law with a worthy barrister* 
Law is business, and to suppose that a young man 
who religiously spent his month's allowance the day 
It was received, could make a success at the bar shows 
the vain delusion that often fills the parental head, 
f Stevenson's essay, ** A Defense of Idlers/* shows 
how no time is actually lost, not even that which is 
idled away. But this is a point that is very hard to 
explain to ambitious parents, 

The traditional throwing overboard of the son the day 
he is twenty-one, allowing him to sink or swim, survive 
or perish, did not prevail with the Stevcnsons* At 
twenty-two Robert Louis still had his one guinea a 
month, besides what he could cajole, beg or borrow 
from his father and mother. He grew to watch the 
mood of his mother, and has recorded that he never 
asked favors of his father before dinner. 
At twenty-three he sold an essay for two pounds* ad 
referred gaily to himself as ** one of the most popular 
and successful essayists in Great Britain." He was 
still a child in spirit* dependent upon others for sup* 
port. He looked like a girl with his big wide-open 
and long hair. As for society, in the society he 

abhorred it and would have despised it if he had 
anything. The soft platitudes of people who win 
tinction by being nothing, doing nothing, and saying 
nothing except what has been said before, moved Elm 
16 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



to mocking mirth. From childhood he was a society 
rebel. He wore his hair long, because society men had 
theirs cut close. 

His short velvet coat, negligee shirt and wide-awake 
hat were worn for no better reason. His long cloak gave 
him a look of haunting mystery, and made one think 
of a stage hero or a robber you read of in books. Motives 
are mixed, and foolish folks who ask questions about 
why certain men do certain things, do not know that 
certain men do certain things because they wish to, 
and leave to others the explanation of the whyness of 
the wherefore. 

People who always dress, talk and act alike do so for 
certain reasons well understood, but the man who does 
differently from the mass is not so easy to analyze 
and formulate* 

The feminine quality in Robert Louis* nature shows 
itself in that he fled the company of women, and with 
them held no converse if he could help it. He never 
wrote a love-story, and once told Crockett that if he 
ever dared write one it would be just like " The Lilac 
Sunbonnet/* 3t 55 

Yet it will not do to call Stevenson effeminate, even. 
if he was feminine. He had a courage that outmatched 
his physique. Once in a cafe in France, a Frenchman 
made the remark that the English were a nation of 
cowards 38 55 

The words had scarcely passed his lips before Robert 

17 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



Louis flung the back of his hand in the Frenchman's 
face. Friends interposed and cards were passed, but 
the fire-eating Frenchman did not call for his revenge 
or apology much to the relief of Robert Louis* 
Plays were begun, stories blocked out, and great plans 
made by Robert Louis and his cousin for passing a 
hawser to literature and taking it in tow. 
When Robert Louis was in his twenty-fourth year he 
found a copy of " Leaves of Grass/* and he and his 
cousin Bob reveled in what they called 4 * a genuine 
book." They heard that Michael Rossetti was to give 
a lecture on Whitman in a certain drawing-room 5$ 
The young men attended, without invitation, and 
walked in coatless, just as they had heard that Wait 
Whitman appeared at the Astor House in New York, 
when he went by appointment to meet Emerson. After 
hearing Rossetti discuss Whitman they got the virus 
fixed in their systems. 

They walked up and down Princess Street in their 
shirt-sleeves, and saw fair ladies blush and look the 
other, way. Next they tried sleeveless jerseys for 
wear, and speculated as to just how much clothing 
they would have to abjure before women would entirely 
cease to look at them. 



18 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 




HE hectic flush was upon the cheek of Robert 
Louis, and people said he was distinguished. 
** Death admires me, even if the publishers 
do not,** he declared. The doctors gave orders 
that he should go South and he seized upon the sugges- 
tion and wrote "Ordered South" and started. Bob went 
with him, and after a trip through Italy, they arrived 
at Barbizon to see the scene of " The Angelus," and 
look upon the land of Millet Millet, whom Michael 
Rossetti called " The Whitman of Art." 
Bob was an artist : he could paint, write, and play the 
flageolet* Robert Louis declared that his own particular 
velvet jacket and big coat would save him at Barbizon, 
even if he could not draw any to speak of. *' In art the 
main thing is to look the part or else paint superbly 
well," said Robert Louis, 

The young men got accommodations at " Siron's.*' 
This was an inn for artists, artists of slender means 
and the patrons at Siron's held that all genuine artists 
had slender means, The rate was five francs a day for 
everything, with a modest pro^rata charge for breakage. 
The rules were not strict, which prompted Robert 
Louis to write the great line, ** When formal manners 
are laid aside, true courtesy is the more rigidly exacted." 
SIron's was an inn, but it was really much more lilsje 
an exclusive club, for if the boarders objected to any 
particular arrival, two days was the outside limit of 
his stay, Buttinsky the bounder was interviewed and 

19 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



the early coach took the objectionable one away forever. 
<I And yet no artist was ever sent away from Siren's 
no matter how bad his work or how threadbare his 
clothes if he was a worker; if he really tried to express 
beauty, all of his eccentricities were pardoned and his 
pot-boiling granted absolution. But the would-be 
Bohemian, or the man in search of a thrill, or if in any 
manner the party on probation suggested that Madame 
Siron was not a perfect cook and Monsieur Siron was 
not a genuine grand duke in disguise, he was inter- 
viewed by Bailley Bodmer, the local headsman of the 
clan, and plainly told that escape lay in flight* 
At Siron's there were several Americans* among them 
being Whistler; nevertheless Americans as a class were 
voted objectionable, unless they were artists, or per- 
chance would-bes who supplied unconscious entertain*- 
ment by an excess of boasting. Women, unless acconv* 
panied by a certified male escort, were not desired under 
any circumstances. And so matters stood when the 
" two Stensons " (the average Frenchman could not 
say Stevenson) were respectively Exalted Ruler and 
Chief Councilor of Siron's* 

At that time one must remember that the chambermaid 
and the landlady might be allowed to mince the 

stage, but men took the leading parts in life* The cousins 
had been away on a three-days* tramping tour through 
the forest. When they returned they were informed 
that something terrible had occurred a woman 
20 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



arrived: an American woman with a daughter aged* 
say, fourteen, and a son twelve. They had paid a month 
in advance and were duly installed by Siron. SIron was 
summoned and threatened with deposition. The poor 
man shrugged his shoulders in hopeless despair. Mon 
Dieu! how could he help it the " Stensons " were 
not at hand to look after their duties the woman 
had paid for accommodations, and money in an art 
colony was none too common! But Bailley Bodmer 
had he, too, been derelict ? Bailley appeared, his boasted 
courage limp, his prowess pricked. 
He asked to have a man pointed out any two or three 
men and he would see that the early stage should not 
go away empty. But a woman, a woman in half -mourn- 
ing, was different, and besides, this was a different 
woman. She was an American, of course, but probably 
against her wilL Her name was Osboume and she was 
from San Francisco, She spoke good French and was 
an artist. One of the Stevensons sneezed; the other 
took a lofty and supercilious attitude of indifference. 
It was tacitly admitted that the woman should be 
allowed to remain, her presence being a reminder to 
Siron of remissness, and to Baiiley of cowardice 58 
So the matter rested, the Siron Club being in tem- 
porary disgrace, the unpleasant feature too distasteful 
even to discuss. As the days passed, however, it was 
discovered that Mrs, Osboume did not make any 
demands upon the Club* She kept her own counsel, 

21 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



rose early and worked late, and her son and daughter 
were very well behaved and inclined to be industrious 
in their studies and sketching* 

It was discovered one day that Robert Louis had gotten 
lunch from the Siron kitchen and was leading the 
Osbourne family on a little excursion to the wood back 
of Rosa Bonheur's. Self-appointed scouts who happened 
to be sketching over that way came back and reported 
that Mrs. Osbourne was seen painting, while Robert 
Louis sat on a rock near by and told pirate tales to 
Lloyd, the twelve-year-old boy. A week later Robert 
Louis had one of his " bad spells," and he Bob 

to send for Mrs. Osbourne. Nobody laughed after this* 
It was silently and unanimously voted that Mrs, 
Osbourae was a good fellow, and soon she was enjoying 
all the benefits of the Siron Club* When a frivuluuu 
member suggested that it be called the Suv,*i Club 
he was met with an oppressive stillness ludL;. 

f Mrs. Osbourne was educated, amiable, willy u;dl 
wise. She evidently knew humanity, was on 
terms with sorrow, although sorrow never 
her; what her history was nobody sought to inquire* 
f When she sketched, Robert Louis told 
to Lloyd. 

The Siron Club took on a degree of sanity it 
not known before. Little entertainments were 
now and then, where Mrs. Osbourne to the com- 

pany from an unknown American poet* Joaquin Miller 
22 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



by name, and Bob expounded Walt Whitman. <ITke 
Americans as a people evidently were not wholly bad 
at least there was hope for them. Bob began to tire 
of Barbizon, and finally went back to Edinburgh alone. 
Arriving there he had to explain why Robert Louis 
did not come too. 

Robert Louis had met an American woman, and they 
seemed to like each other. The parents of Robert Louis 
did not laugh: they were grieved. Their son, who had 
always kept himself clear from feminine entanglements, 
was madly, insanely, in love with a woman, the mother 
of two grown-up children, and a married woman and 
an American at that it was too much! 
Just how they expostulated and how much will never 
be known* They declined to go over to France to see 
her, and they declined to have her come to see them: 
a thing Mrs. Osbourne probably would not have done 
at that time, anyway, 

But there was a comfort in this: their son was in much 
better health, and several of his articles had been 
accepted by the great London magazines. 
So three months went by t when suddenly and without 
notice Robert Louis appeared at home, and in good 
spirits* As for Mrs, Osbourne, she had sailed for America 
with her two children. And the elder Stevensons 
breathed more freely. 



23 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 




|N August Tenth, Eighteen Hundred Seventy- 
nine, Robert Louis sailed from Glasgow for 
New York on the steamship " Devonia." 
It was a sudden move, taken without the 
consent of his parents or kinsmen. The young man 
wrote a letter to his father, mailing it at the dock iSS 
When the missive reached the father's hands, that 
worthy gentleman was unspeakably shocked and 
terribly grieved. He made frantic attempts to reach 
the ship before it had passed out of the Clyde and 
rounded into the North Sea, but it was too late* He 
then sent two telegrams to the Port of Londonderry, 
one to Louis begging him to return at once as his mother 
was very sick, and the other message to the captain of 
the ship ordering him to put the wilful son ashore bag 
and baggage. 

The things we do when fear and haste are at the helm 
are usually wrong, and certainly do not mirror our 
better selves. 

Thomas Stevenson was a Scotchman, and the Scotch, 
a certain man has told us, are the owners of a trinity 
of bad things Scotch whisky. Scotch obstinacy and 
Scotch religion. What the first-mentioned article has 
to do with the second and the third p I do not know, 
but certain it is that the second and the third arc 
hopelessly intertwined this according to Ian Mac- 
Laren, who ought to know. 

This obstinacy in right proportion constitutes will* 
24 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



and without will life languishes and projects die a-born~ 
ing. But mixed up with this religious obstinacy is a 
goodly jigger of secretiveness, and in order to gain his 
own point the religion of the owner does not prevent 
him from prevarication. In " Margaret Ogilvie," that 
exquisite tribute to his mother by Barrie, the author 
shows us a most religious woman who was well tip 
to the head of the Sapphira class. The old lady had been 
reading a certain book, and there was no reason why 
she should conceal the fact. The son suddenly enters 
and finds the mother sitting quietly looking out of 
the window. She was suspiciously quiet* The son ques- 
tions her somewhat as follows: 
** What are you doing, mother? " 
** Nothing/* was the answer. 
" Have you been reading? " 
" Do I look like it? " 
** Why, yes the book on your Iap! ff 
** What book? " 
** The book under your apron/* 

And so does this sweetly charming and deeply religious 
old lady prove her fitness in many ways to membership 
in the liar's league* She secretes, prevaricates, quibbles, 
lays petty traps and mouses all day long. The Eleventh 
Commandment, ** Thou Shalt Not Snoop/* evidently 
had never been called to her attention, and even her 
gifted son is seemingly totally unaware of it. So Thomas 

Stevenson, excellent man that he was, turned to 

25 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



subterfuge, and telegraphed his runaway son that his 
mother was sick, appealing to his love for his mother 
to lure him back, 

However, children do not live with their forebears 
for nothing they know their parents just as well 
as their parents know them. Robert Louis reasoned 
that it was quite as probable that his father lied as 
that his mother was sick. He yielded to the stronger 
attraction and stuck to the ship, 
He was sailing to America because he had received 
word that Fanny Osbourne was very ill. Half a world 
divided them, but attraction to lovers is in inverse 
ratio to the square of the distance. He must go to her! 
flf She was sick and in distress. He must go to her. 
The appeals of his parents even their dire displeasure 
the ridicule of relatives, all were as naught. He had 
some Scotch obstinacy of his own. Every fiber of his 
being yearned for her. She needed him. He was going 
to her! 

Of course his action in thus sailing away to a strange 
land alone was a shock to his parents. He was a man 
In years, but they regarded him as but a child, as indeed 
he was. He had never earned his own living. He 
frail in body, idle, erratic, peculiar. His flashing wit 
and subtle insight into the heart of things were quite 
beyond his parents in this he was a stranger to them* 
Their religion to him was gently amusing, lie 

congratulated himself on not having inherited it. He 
26 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



had a pride, too, but Graham Balfour said it was French 
pride, not the Scotch brand. He viewed himself as a 
part of the passing procession. His own velvet jacket 
and marvelous manifestations in neckties added interest 
to the show. And that he admired his own languorous 
ways there is no doubt. 

His ** Dr* Jekyl and Mr. Hyde " he declared in sober 
earnest, in which was concealed a half -smile, was auto- 
biography. And this is true, for all good things that 
every writer writes are a self-confession. 
Stevenson was a hundred men in one and ** his years 
were anything from sixteen to eighty/' says Lloyd 
Osbourne in his ** Memoirs/' But when a letter came 
from San Francisco saying Fanny Osbourne was sick, 
all of that dilatory, procrastinating, gently trifling 
quality went out of his soul and he was possessed by 
one idea he must go to her! 

The captain of the ship had no authority to follow the 
order of an unknown person and put him ashore, so 
the telegram was given to the man to whom it referred. 
<I He read the message, smiled dreamily, tore it into 
bits and dropped it on the tide. And the ship turned 
her prow toward America and sailed away. So this 
was the man who had no firmness, no decision, no will I 
Aye, heretofore he had only lacked a motive. Now love 
supplied it* 



27 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 




]T is life supplies the writer his theme* People 
who have not lived, no matter how gram- 
matically they may write, have no real 

message. Robert Louis had now severed 

the umbilical cord- He was going to live his own life, 
to earn his own living. He could do but one thing* and 
that was to write. He may have been a procrastinator 
in everything else, but as a writer he was a skilled 
mechanic. And so straightway on that ship he began 
to work his experiences up into copy* Just what he 
wrote the world will never know, for although the manu- 
script was sold to a publisher, yet Barabbas did not 
give it to the people. There are several ways by which 
a publisher can thrive. 

To get paid for not publishing is easy moneyit 
involves no risk. In this instance an Edinburgh pub- 
lisher bought the manuscript for thirty pounds, intend- 
ing to print it in book form, showing the experience 
of a Scotchman in search of a fortune in New York- 
fl In order to verify certain dates and data, the pub* 
lisher submitted the manuscript to Thomas Stevenson- 
Great was that gentleman's interest in the literary 
venture of his son. He read with a personal interest, 
for he was the author of the author's being* But as 
he read he felt that he himself was placed In a 
unenviable light, for although he was not directly 
mentioned, yet the suffering of the son on the emigrant 
ship seemed to point out the father as one who 
28 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



disregarded his parental duties. And above all things 
Thomas Stevenson prided himself on being a good pro- 
vider. Thomas Stevenson straightway bought the man- 
uscript from the publisher for one hundred pounds S& 
On hearing of the fate of his book, Robert Louis inti- 
mated to his father that thereafter it would be as well 
for them to deal direct with each other and thus save 
the middleman's profits. 

However, the father and son got together on the manu- 
script question some years later, and the over-sensitive 
parent was placated by striking out certain passages 
that might be construed as aspersions, and a few direct 
complimentary references inserted, and the printer 
got the book on payment of two hundred pounds. The 
transaction turned out so well that Thomas Stevenson 
said, " I told you so," and Robert Louis saw the patent 
fact that hindsight, accident and fear sometimes serve 
us quite as well as insight and perspicacity, not to 
mention perspicuity XWe aim for one target and hit 
the bullVeye on another. We sail for a certain port, 
where, unknown to us, pirates lie in wait, and God 
sends His storms and drives us upon Treasure Island.'' 
There we load up with ingots; the high tide floats us, 
and we sail away for home with our unearned increment 
to tell the untraveled natives how we most surely are 
the people and that wisdom will die with us. 



29 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 




lOBERT LOUIS was a sick man. The ship 
was crowded and the fare and quarters were 

far from being what he always had been used 
to. The people he met In the second cabin 
were neither literary nor artistic, but some of them had 
right generous hearts. On being interrogated by one 
of his messmates as to his business, Robert Louis replied 
that he was a stone-mason. The man looked at his long, 
slim, artistic fingers knew better, but he did not 
laugh 55 53 

He respected this young man with the hectic flush, 
revereiK-ed his secret whatever it might be, and smug- 
gled delicacies from the cook's galley for the 
stone-mason, ** Tiacj clM he shovel >. .^,- ; '* *o on 
my head until to o-v.s nty iietirl; j r,n=ii *' 'j..? "i -'lut 
moonlight night and lo'ld, Mm I waj? r * si 1 '/!.. i,',",n % 
and begged him to oj;i!;r/a m for fpy*n; r r 'J to 
deceive one of God's o >7h rfcn I:l^i": J-.-M . ' ' (VI '. : i i at:, 
every day our emigrant turruxl out si Ji. lh: ;:/;r . 'opy f 
and this mad/: life enduraMv, for w:v' 'I -n^* ; ,i.:jrt 
Louis himself who gave us this* immon;*' "n\ s " ' 1 -ow 
what pleasure is s for I have work " # 

He VYW; going to her* Arriving in New York he straight- 
way invested two good dollars in a to 
Francisco, and five cents in postage on a to 
Edinburgh. These two things done he would 
to rest up for a few days in New York. One of the 
sengers had given him the address of a 
30 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



respectable tavern, wkere an honest laborer of scanty 
purse could find food and lodging. This was Number 
Ten West Street. 

Robert Louis dare not trust Himself to the regular 
transfer-company, so he listened to the siren song of 
the owner of a one-horse express-wagon who explained 
that the distance to Number Ten West Street was 
something to be dreaded, and that five dollars for the 
passenger and his two tin boxes was like doing it for 
nothing. The money was paid; the boxes were loaded 
into the wagon, and Robert Louis seated upon one 
of them, with a horse-blanket around him, in the midst 
of a pouring rain, the driver cracked his whip and 
started away. He drove three blocks to the starboard 
and one to port, and backed up in front of Number 
Ten West Street, which proved to be almost directly 
across the street from the place where the *' Devonia " 
was docked. But strangers in a strange country can 
not argue they can only submit. 
The landlord looked over the new arrival from behind 
the bar, and then through a little window called for 
his wife to come in from the kitchen* The appearance 
of the dripping emigrant who insisted in answer to 
their questions that he was not sick, and that he 
needed nothing, made an appeal to the mother-heart 
of this wife of an Irish saloonkeeper* 
Straightway she got dry clothes from her husband's 
wardrobe for the poor man, and insisted that he should 

31 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



at once go to Ms room and change the wet garments 
for the dry ones. She then prepared him supper which 
he ate in the kitchen, and choked for gratitude when 
this middle-aged, stout and illiterate woman poured 
his tea and called him ** dear heart/* 
She asked him where he was going and what he was 
going to do. He dare not repeat the story that he was 
a stone-mason the woman knew he was some sort 
of a superior being, and his answer that he was going 
out West to make his fortune was met by the Irish-like 
response, "And may the Holy Mother grant that ye 
find it." 

It is very curious how gentle and beautiful souls find 
other gentle and beautiful souls even in barrooms* 
and among the lowly I really do not understand itl 
In his book Robert Louis paid the landlord of Number 
Ten West Street such a heartfelt compliment that the 
traditions still invest the place, and the present landlord 
is not forgetful that his predecessor once entertained 
an angel unawares. 

When the literary pilgrim enters the door, scrapes 
his feet on the sanded floor, and says " Robert Louis 
Stevenson/ 5 the barkeeper and loafers straighten up 
and endeavor to put on the pose and manner of gentle*- 
men and all the courtesy, kindness and consideration 
they can muster are yours. The man who could redeem 
a West Street barkeeper and glorify a dock saloon 
must indeed have been a most remarkable personality. 
32 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 




O get properly keelhauled for his overland 
emigrant trip across the continent, Robert 
Louis remained in New York three days. 
The kind landlady packed a big basket of 
food not exactly the kind to tempt the appetite of 
an invalid, but all flavored with good-will, and she also 
at the last moment presented him a pillow in a new 
calico pillowcase that has been accurately described, 
and the journey began. 

There was no sleeping-car for the author of ** A Lodging 
for the Night/' He sat bolt upright and held tired babies 
on his knees, or tumbled into a seat and wooed the 
drowsy god. The third night out he tried sleeping flat 
in the aisle of the car on the floor until the brakeman 
ordered him up, and then two men proposed to fight 
the officious brakeman if he did not leave the man alone, 
To save a riot Robert Louis agreed to obey the rules. 
It was a ten-day trip across the continent, filled with 
discomforts that would have tried the constitution 
of a strong man. 

Robert Louis arrived ** bilgy/* as he expressed it, but 
alive, Mrs- Osbourne was better* The day she received 
the telegram was the turning-point in her case. 
The doctor perceived that his treatment was along the 
right line, and ordered the medicine continued. 
She was too ill to see Robert Louis it was not neces- 
sary, anyway. He was near and this was enough. She 
began to gain. Just here seems a good place to say that 

33 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



the foolish story to the effect that Mr, Osbourne was 
present at the wedding and gave his wife away has 
no foundation in fact. Robert Louis never saw Mr. 
Osbourne and never once mentioned his name to any 
one so far as we know. He was a mine-prospector and 
speculator, fairly successful in his work- That he and 
his wife were totally different in their tastes and ambi- 
tions is well understood. They whom God has put 
asunder no man can join together. 
The husband and wife had separated, and Mrs* Os- 
bourne went to France to educate her children- educate 
them as far from their father as possible. Also* she 
wished to study art on her own account. So* blessed 
be stupidity and heart-hunger and haunting misery 
that drive one out and away. 

She returned to California to obtain legal freedom 
and make secure her business affairs. There are usually 
three parties to a divorce, and this case was no excep*- 
tion. It is a terrible ordeal for a woman to face a divorce* 
court and ask the State to grant her a legal separation 
from the father of her children. Divorce is not a sudden, 
spontaneous affair it is the culmination of a long 
of unutterable woe. Under the storm and stress of her 
troubles Mrs. Osbourne had been stricken with fever. 
Sickness is a result, and so is health. 
When Robert Louis arrived in San Francisco Mrs* 
Osbourne grew better. In a few months she pushed 
her divorce case to a successful conclusion, 
34 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



Mr. Osbourne must liave been a man with some gentle- 
manly instincts, for he made no defense, provided a 
liberal little fortune for his former family, and kindly 
disappeared from view. 

Robert Louis did desultory work on newspapers in 
San Francisco and later at Monterey, with health up 
and down as hope fluctuated. In the interval a cable- 
gram had come from his father saying, " Your allowance 
is two hundred and fifty pounds a year/* This meant 
that he had been forgiven, although not very graciously, 
and was not to starve. 

Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne were 
married May Tenth, Eighteen Hundred Eighty. " The 
Silverado Squatters " shows how to spend a honeymoon 
in a miner's deserted cabin, a thousand miles from 
nowhere. The Osbourne children were almost grown, 
and were at that censorious age when the average 
youngster feels himself capable of taking mental 
and moral charge of his parents* 
But these children were different; then, they had a 
different mother, and as for Robert Louis, he certainly 
was a different proposition from that ever evolved 
from creation's matrix. He belongs to no class, evades 
the label, and fits into no pigeonhole. 
The children never called him ** father " : he was always 
** Louis "simply one of them* He married the family 
and they married him. He had captured their hearts 
in France by his story-telling, his flute-playing and 

35 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



his skilful talent with the jacknife. Now he was with 
them for all time, and he was theirs. It was the most 
natural thing in the world, 

Mrs. Stevenson was the exact opposite of her husband 
in most things. She was quick, practical, accurate* 
and had a manual dexterity in a housekeeping way 
beyond the lot of most women. With ail his half -invalid, 
languid, dilettante ways, Robert Louis adored the mant 
or woman who could do things. Perhaps this was why 
his heart went out to those who go down to the 
in ships, the folk whose work is founded not on theories, 
but on absolute mathematical laws. 
In their fourteen years of married life, Robert Louis 
never tired of watching Fanny at her housekeeping* 
** To see her turn the flapjacks by a simple twist of 
the wrist is a delight not soon to be forgotten* and my 
joy is to see her hanging clothes on the line in a high 
wind/' 33 5$ 

The folks at home labored under the hallucination 
that Robert Louis had married ** a native California!!/ 1 
and to them a "native" meant a half-breed Indian* 
The fact was that Fanny was born in Indiana* but this 
explanation only deepened the suspicion, for surely 
people who lived in Indiana are Indians- any one would 
know that! Cousin Robert made apologies and expla*- 
nations, although none was needed, and placed himself 
under the ban of suspicion of being in league to protect 
Robert Louis, for the fact that the boys had always 
36 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



been quite willing to lie for each other had been very 

well known. 

Mrs. Stevenson made good all that Robert Louis lacked. 
In physique she was small, but sturdy and strong 53 
Mentally she was very practical, very sensible, very 
patient. Then she had wit, insight, sympathy and that 
fluidity of spirit which belongs only to the Elect Few 
who know that nothing really matters much either way. 
Such a person does not contradict, set folks straight 
as to dates, and shake the red rag of wordy warfare, 
even in the interests of truth. 

Then keeping house on Silverado Hill was only playing 
at ** keep-house/* and the way all hands entered into 
the game made it the genuine thing. People who keep 
house in earnest or do anything else in dead earnest 
are serious, but not sincere,; Sincere people are those 
who can laugh even laugh at themselves and thus 
are they saved from ossification of the heart and fatty 
degeneration of the cerebrum. The Puritans forgot 
how to play, otherwise they would never have hanged 
the witches or gone after the Quakers with fetters 
and handcuffs* Uric acid and crystals in the blood 
are bad things, but they are worse when they get into 
the souL^ 

That most delightful story of ** Treasure Island " was 
begun as a tale for Lloyd Osbourne, around the evening 
campfire. Then the hearers begged that it be written 
out, and so it was begun, one chapter a day. As fast 

37 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



as a chapter was written it was read in the evening 
to an audience that hung on every word and speculated 
as to what the characters would do next. Ail applauded, 
all criticized all made suggestions as to what was 

" true/' that is to say, as to what the parties actually 
did and said. " Treasure Island >J is the best story of 
adventure ever written, and if anybody knows a better 
recipe for story-writing than the plan of writing just for 
fun, for some one else, it has not yet been discovered 51 
The miracle is that Robert Louis the Scotchman should 
have been so perfectly understood and appreciated 
by this little family from the other side of the world* 
f The Englishman coming to America speaks a different 
language from ours his allusions, symbols, aphorisms 
belong to another sphere. He does not understand us* 
nor we him. But Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny 
Osbourne must have been " universals," for they never 
really had to get acquainted: they loved the 
things, spoke a common language* and best of all 
recognized that what we call " life " is nt life at the 
last, and that an anxious stirring, clutching for 
pelf and power is not nearly so good in results as to 
play the flute, tell stories and keep house just for fun. 
f The Stevenson spirit of gentle raillery well 

illustrated by Mrs. Strong in an incident that ran 
somewhat thus: A certain boastful young 
telling of a funeral where among other 
were eight " pallberries/* <JSaid Mrs. Stevenson In 
38 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



admiration, ** Just now, a-think, pallberries at a funeral; 
how delightful! " ** My dear," said Robert Louis, 
reprovingly, ** you know perfectly well that we always 
have pallberries at our funerals in Samoa/ 9 
** Quite true, my dear, provided it is pallberry season." 
<I " And suppose it is not pallberry season, do we not 
have them tinted? ** 

*' Yes, but there is a tendency to pick them green 
that is awful!" 

* 4 But not so awful as to leave them on the bushes until 
they get rotten/* 

Finck in his fine book, ** Romantic Love and Personal 
Beauty/* says that not once in a hundred thousand 
times do you find man and wife who have reached a 
state of actual understanding* 

Incompatibility comes from misunderstanding and 
misconstruing motives, and more often, probably, 
attributing motives where none exists. And until a 
man and a woman comprehend the working of each 
other's mind and *' respect the mood/' there is no 
mental mating, and without a mental mating we can 
talk of rights and ownership,, but not of marriage. 
^| The delight of creative work lies in self -discovery: 
you are mining nuggets of power out of your own 
cosmos, and the find comes as a great and glad surprise* 
The kindergarten baby who discovers he can cut out 
a pretty shape from colored paper, and straightway 
wants to run home to show mamma his find* is not far 

39 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 



separated from the literary worker who turns a telling 
phrase, and straightway looks for Her, to read it to 
double his joy by sharing it, Robert; L-ouis was ever 
discovering new beauties in his wife and she in him* 
Eliminate the element of surprise and anticipate every- 
thing a person can do or say, and love is a mummy. Thus 
do we get the antithesis understanding and surprise. 
f Marriage worked a miracle in Robert Louk; suddenly 
he became industrious. He ordered that a bell should 
be tinkled at six o'clock every morning or a whistle 
blown as a sign that he should " get away/ 1 and at once 
he began the work of the day. More probably he hat! 
begun it hours before, for he had the bad habit of tho 
midnight brain. Kipling calls Robert Louis our only per- 
fect artist in letters the man who filed down to a hair* 
f Robert Louis knew no synonyms ; for him there was I he 
right word and none other. He balanced the sentence 
over and over on his tongue, tried and tried again until 
he found the cadence that cast the prophetic purple 
shadow that not only expressed a meaning, but which 
tokened what would follow. 

He was always assiduously graceful, always to 

present his idea in as persuasive a light as possible, 
with as much harmony as possible* That tieif -revelatory 
expression of Stevenson's is eminently characteristic of 
the man: " I know what pleasure is, for I have 
good work." 

" Treasure Island " opened the market for 
40 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



and thereafter there was a steadily increasing demand 
for his wares. 

Health came back; and the folks at home seeing that 
Robert Louis was getting his name in the papers, and 
noting the steady, triumphant tone of sanity in all 
he wrote, came to the conclusion that his marriage 
was not a failure. 



41 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 




1BOVE all men in the realm of letters Robert 
Louis had that peculiar and divine thing 
called ** charm/' To know him was to love 
him, and those who did not love him did 

not know him. 

This welling grace of spirit was also the possession 

of his wife. 

In his married life Stevenson was always a lover, never 

the loved. The habit of his mind is admirably shown 

in these lines: 

TO MY WIFE 
Trusty, dusky, vivid, true, 
With eyes of gold and bramble dew 

Steel true and blade straight. 

The Great Artisan made my mate* 

Honor, courage, valor, fire, 
A love that life could never tire, 
Death quench nor evil stir, 
The Mighty Master gave to her* 

Teacher, pupil, comrade, wife* 

A fellow-farer true through life. 
Heart-whole and soul free, 

The august Father gave to me* 

Edmund Gosse gives a pen-picture of Stevenson 
42 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



I came home dazzled with my new friend, saying 
as Constance docs of Arthur, ** Was ever such a gracious 
creature bora?" That impression of ineffable mental 
charm was formed the first moment of acquaintance, 
about Eighteen Hundred Seventy-seven, and it never 
lessened or became modified. Stevenson's rapidity in 
the sympathetic interchange of ideas was, doubtless, 
the source of it. He has been described as an " egotist/* 
but I challenge the description. If ever there was an 
altruist it was Louis Stevenson; he seemed to feign 
an interest in himself merely to stimulate you to be 
liberal in your confidences. Those who have written 
about him from later impressions thai) those of which 
I speak seem to me to give insufficient prominence 
to the gaiety of Stevenson, It was his cardinal quality 
in those early days. A childlike mirth leaped and danced 
in him; he seemed to skip the hills of life. He was simply 
bubbling with quips and jest; his inherent earnestness 
or passion about abstract things was incessantly relieved 
by jocosity; and when he had built one of his intellectual 
castles in the sand, a wave of humor was certain to 
sweep in and destroy it, I can not, for the life of me, 
recall any of his jokes; and written down in cold 
blood, they might not seem funny if I did. They were 
not wit so much as humanity, the many-sided out- 
look upon life, I am anxious that his laughter-loving 
mood should not be forgotten, because later on it was 
partly quenched by ill health, responsibility and the 
advance of years* He was often, in the old days, 
excessively, delightfully silly silly with the silliness of 
an inspired schoolboy; I am afraid our laughter sorae<- 
times sounded ill in the ears of age* 

43 



ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 




VISIT to Scotland and the elders capitulated* 
apologized, and asked for quarter, So de- 
lighted was Thomas Stevenson with Lloyd 
Osbourne that he made the boy his chief 
heir, and declared in the presence of Robert Louis that 
he only regretted that his own son was never half so 
likely a lad* To which Robert Louis made reply 4 * Genius 
always skips one generation/* 
Health had come to Robert Louis in a degree he 
never before known. He also had dignity and a precision 
such as his parents and kinsmen had despaired of seeing 
in one so physically and mentally vacillating. 
Stevenson was once asked by a mousing astrologer 
to state the date of his birth, Robert Louis looked 
at his wife soberly and slowly answered, * 4 May Tenth, 
Eighteen Hundred Eighty/' And not even a smile 
crossed the countenance of either. Each understood, 
f That the nature of Stevenson was buoyed up, spiri- 
tualized, encouraged and given strength by his marriage* 
no quibbler has ever breathed the ghost of a doubt* 
His wife supplied him the mothering care that 
his spirit wing. He loved her children as his own, 
and they reciprocated the affection in a way that 
embalms their names in amber forevermore. <1 When 
Robert Louis, after a hemorrhage, sat propped up in 
bed, forbidden to speak, he wrote on a pad with pencil; 
" Mr. Dumbleigh presents his compliments and 

God that he is sick so he has to be cared for by two 
44 



AND FANNY OSBOURNE 



tender, loving fairies. Was ever a man so blest? " 33 
Again lie begins the day by inditing a poem, " To the 
bare, brown feet of my wife and daughter dear/' And 
this, be it remembered, was after the bare, brown feet 
had been running errands for him for thirteen years, 
And think you that women so loved, and by such a 
man, would not fetch and carry and run and find their 
highest joy in ministering to him? If he were thrice 
blest in having them, as he continually avowed, how 
about them> It only takes a small dole of love when 
fused with loyalty to win the abject, doglike devo- 
tion of a good woman. On the day of his death Steven- 
son said to his wife, ** You have already given me 
fourteen years of life/' And this is the world's verdict 
fourteen years of life and love, and without these four- 
teen years the name and fame of Robert Louis Steven- 
son were writ in water; with them " R. L. S." has been 
cut deep in the granite of time, but better still, the gentle 
spirit of Stevenson lives again in the common heart 
of the world in lives made better. 



45 



JOSIAH AND SARAH 
WEDGWOOD 




JOSIAH WEDGWOOD 



Admitting my inexperience, I must say that I think 
the instinct for beauty and all the desire to produce 
beautiful things, which you and Goethe refer to as 
the ** Art Impulse," is a kind of sex quality, not unlike 
the song of birds or their beautiful plumage. 

Jodah Wtdgwood to Doctor Erasmus Darwin 



JOSIAH AND SARAH 
WEDGWOOD 




NCE upon a day a financial panic 
was on in Boston. Real estate was 
rapidly changing hands, most all 
owners making desperate efforts to 

realize. Banks which were thought 
to be solvent and solid went soaring 
skyward, and even collapsed occa- 
sionally, with a loud, ominous, 

R. G. Dun report. And so it happened that about this 
time Henry Thoreau strolled out of his cabin and looking 
up at the placid moon, murmured, ** Moonshine, after 
all, is the only really permanent thing we possess/' 
<I This is the first in the series of twelve love-stories 
or ** tales of moonshine/* to use the phrase of Thomas 
Carlyle 53 33 

In passing, let us note the fact that the doughty Thomas 
was not a lover, and he more than once growled out 
his gratitude in that he had never lost either his head 
or his heart, for men congratulate themselves on every- 
thing they have, even their limitations. Thomas Carlyle 
was not a lover- 

A great passion is a trinitarian affair. And I sometimes 
have thought it a matter of regret, as well as of wonder, 
that a strong man did not appear on the scene and fall 
in, love with the winsome Jeannie Welsh. Conditions 

49 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

were ripe there for a great drama* 1 know it would have 
blown the roof off that little home in Cheyne Row, 
but it might have crushed the heart of Thomas Carlyie 

and made him a lover, indeed- After death had claimed 
Jeannie as a bride, the fastnesses of the old Sartor 
Resartus soul were broken up, and Carlyle paced the 
darkness, crying aloud, 4< Oh, why was I cruel to her? M 

He manifested a tenderness toward the memory of 
the woman dead which the woman alive had never 
been able to bring forth* 

Love demands opposition and obstacle. It is the inter- 
mittent or obstructed current that gives power* 
The finest flowers are those transplanted; for trans- 
planting means difficulty, a readjusting to new condi- 
tions, and through the effort put forth to find adjust- 
ment does the plant progress. Transplanted men are 
the ones who do the things worth while, and trans- 
planted girls are the only ones who inspire a mighty 
passion. Audrey transplanted might have evolved into 
a Nell Gwynn or a Lady Hamilton, 
In such immortal love-stories as Romeo and Juliet* 
Tristram and Isolde, and Paolo and Franccaca, a love 
so mad in its wild impetus is pictured that it 
itself against danger; and death for the lovers, we 
from the beginning* is the sure climax when the curtain 
shall fall on the fifth act* 
The sustained popular interest in 
that the entranced auditors have dabbled in the 
50 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



so they feel a fervent interest in those hopelessly caught 

in the current, and from the snug safety of the parquette 
live vicariously their lives and the loves that might 
have been. 

But let us begin with a life-story, where love resolved 
its ** moonshine " into life, and justified itself even to 
stopping the mouths of certain self-appointed censors, 
who caviled much and quibbled overtime. Here is a 
love so great that in its beneficent results we are all 
yet partakers. 



51 




JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

BOUT all the civilization England has she 
got from the Dutch; her barbarisms are all 
her own. It was the Dutch who taught the 
English how to print and bind books and how 
to paint pictures. 

It was the Dutch who taught the English how to use 
the potter s wheel and glaze and burn earthenware. 
Until less than two hundred years ago, the best pottery 
in use in England came from Holland. It was mostly 
made at Delft, and they called it Delftware. 
Finally they got to making Delftware in Staffordshire. 
This was about the middle of the Eighteenth Century. 
And it seems that, a little before this time, John Wesley, 
a traveling preacher, came up this way on horseback, 
carrying tracts in his saddlebags, and much love in his 
heart. He believed that we should use our religion in 
our life seven days in the week, and not save it up 
for Sunday, In ridicule, some one had called him a 
"Methodist/* and the name stuck. 
John Wesley was a few hundred years in advance of 
his time. He is the man who said, " Slavery is the sum 
of all villainies/* John Wesley had a brother named 
Charles, who wrote hymns, but John did things. He 
had definite ideas about the rights of women and chil- 
dren, also on temperance, education, taxation and 
exercise, and whether his followers have ever caught 
up with him, much less gone ahead of fyiin, is not for 
me, a modest farmer, to say. <J In the published "Journal 
52 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



of John Wesley/' Is this: "March 8, 1760. Preached 
at Burslem, a town made up of potters. The people are 
poor, ignorant, and often brutal, but in due time the 
heart must be moved toward God, and He will enlighten 
the understanding/ 5 

And again; " Several In the congregation talked out 
loud and laughed continuously. And then one threw 
at me a lump of potter's clay that struck me in the 
face, but it did not disturb my discourse." 
This whole section was just emerging out of the Stone 
Age, and the people were mostly making stoneware. 
They worked about four days in a week. The skilful 
men made a shilling a day the women one shilling 
a week. And all the money they got above a meager 
living went for folly. Bear-baiting, bullfighting and 
drunkenness were the rule. There were breweries at 
Staffordshire before there were potteries, but now the 
potters made jugs and pots for the brewers. 
These potters lived in hovels, and, what is worse, 
were quite content with their lot. In the potteries 
women often worked mixing the mud, and while at 
work wore the garb of men. 

Wesley referred to the fact of the men and women 
dressing alike, and relates that once a dozen women 
wearing men's clothes, well plastered with mud, entered 
the chapel where he was preaching, and were urged on 
by the men to affront him and break up the meeting. 
Then comes this interesting item: ** 1 met a young 

53 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



man by the name of J. Wedgwood, who had planted a 
flower-garden adjacent to his pottery. He also had his 
men wash their hands and faces and change their 
clothes after working in the clay. He is small and 
lame, but his soul is near to God/* 

I think that John Wesley was a very great man, I 
also think he was great enough to know that only a 
man who is in love plants a flower-garden. 

Yes, such was the case Josiah Wedgwood was in 
love, madly, insanely, tragically in love! And he was 
liberating that love in his work. Hence, among other 
forms that his " insanity " took, he planted a flower- 
garden S3 $ 

And of course, the garden was for the lady he loved 58 
Love must do something it is a form of vital energy 
and the best thing it does, it does for the beloved. 
Flowers are love's own properties. And so flowers, 
natural or artificial, are a, secondary sex manifestation. 

I 1 said Josiah Wedgwood was tragically in love 
the word was used advisedly. One can play comedy; 
two are required for melodrama; but a tragedy demands 
three 33 33 

A tragedy means opposition, obstacle, objection. Josiah 
Wedgwood was putting forth a flower-garden, not 
knowing why, possibly, but as a form of attraction. 
And John Wesley riding by, reined in, stopped and 
after talking with the owner of the flower-garden wrote, 
" He is small and lame, but his soul is near to God/' 
54 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 




PSIAH WEDGWOOD, like Richard Ark- 
wright, his great contemporary, was the 
thirteenth child of his parents. 
Let family folk fear no more about thirteen 
being an unlucky number. The common law of England, 
which usually has some good reason based on common- 
sense for its existence, makes the eldest son the heir: 
this on the assumption that the firstborn inherits brain 
and brawn plus. If the firstborn happened to be a girl, 
it did n't count. 

The rest of the family grade down until we get ** the 
last run of shad." But Nature is continually doing 
things just as if to smash our theories. The Arkwrights 
and the Wedgwoods are immortal through Omega 
and not Alpha. 

Thomas Wedgwood, the father of Josiah, was a potter 
who made butter-pots and owned a little pottery 
that stood in the yard behind the house. He owned 
it, save for a mortgage, and when he died, he left the 
mortgage and the property to his eldest son Thomas, 
to look after. 

Josiah was then nine years old, but already he was 
throwing clay on the potter's wheel. It would not do 
to say that he was clay in the hand of the potter, for 
while the boys of his age were frolicking through the 
streets of the little village of Burslem where he lived, 
he was learning the three R's at his mother's knee. 
<I I hardly suppose we can speak of a woman who 

55 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

was the mother of thirteen children before she was 
forty, and taking care of them all without a servant, 
as highly cultivated. Several of Josiah's brothers and 
sisters never learned to read and write, for like Judith 
Shakespeare, the daughter of William, they made their 
mark: which shows us that there are several ways of 
turning that pretty trick. Children born of the same 
parents are not necessarily related to each other, nor 
to their parents, 

Mary Wedgwood, Josiah's mother, wrote for him his 
name in clay, and some years after he related how he 
copied it a hundred times every day for a week, writing 
with a stick in the mud. 

Lame children or weakly ones seem to get their quota 
of love all right, so let us not feel sorry for them every- 
thing is equalized. 

When Josiah was fourteen he could write better than 
either his mother or his brother Thomas; for we have 
the signatures of all three appended to an indenture 
of apprenticeship, wherein Josiah was bound to his 
brother Thomas for five years. The youngster was to 
be taught the " mystery, trade, occupation and secrets 
of throwing and handling clay, and also burning it/" 
But the fact was that as he was born in the pottery 
and had lived and worked in it, and was a most alert 
and impressionable child, he knew quite as much about 
the work as his brother Thomas, who was twenty years 
older. Years are no proof of ability. flAt nineteen, 
56 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



Josiah's apprenticeship to his brother expired. " I 
have my trade, a lame leg and the marks of smallpox 
and 1 never was good-looking, anyway/' he wrote 
in his commonplace-book. 

The terrific attack of smallpox that he had undergone 
had not only branded his face, but had left an inflam- 
mation in his riglxt knee that made walking most 
difficult. This difficulty was no doubt aggravated 
by his hard work turning the potter's wheel with 
one foot. During the apprenticeship the brother 
had paid him no wages, simply " booarde, meate, 
drink and cloatheing,** 

Now he was sick, lame and penniless. His mother 
had died the year before. He was living with his 
brothers and sisters, who were poor, and felt that 
he was more or less of a burden to them and to the 
world: the tide was at ebb. And about this time it 
was that Richard Wedgwood, Esquire, from Cheshire, 
came over to Burslem on horseback. Richard has been 
mentioned as a brother of Thomas, the father of Josiah, 
but the fact seems to be that they were cousins. 
Richard was a gentleman in truth, if not in title. He 
had made a fortune as a cheesemonger and retired. He 
went to London once a year* and had been to Paris. 
He was decently fat, was senior warden of his village 
church, and people who knew their business addressed 
him as Squire. The whole village of Burslem boasted 
only one horse and a mule, but Squire Wedgwood of 

57 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

Cheshire owned three horses, all his own. He rode only 
one horse though, when he came to Burslem, and behind 
him, seated on a pillion, was his only and motherless 
daughter Sarah, aged fourteen, going on fifteen, with 
dresses to her shoe-tops. 

He brought her because she teased to come, and in 
truth he loved the girl very much and was extremely 
proud of her, even if he did reprove her more than was 
meet. But she usually got even by doing as she pleased. 
<J Now they were on their way to Liverpool and just 
came around this way a-cousining. 
And among others on whom they called were the Wedg- 
wood potters. In the kitchen, propped up on a bench, 
with his lame leg stretched out before him, sat Josiah, 
worn, yellow and wan, all pitted with smallpox-marks. 
The girl looked at the young man and asked him how 
he got hurt she was only a child. Then she asked him 
if he could read. And she was awful glad he could, 
because to be sick and not to be able to read was awful! 
<} Her father had a copy of Thomson's " Seasons " 
in his saddlebags. She went and got the book and gave 
it to Josiah, and told her father about it afterward. 
And when the father and daughter went away, the 
girl stroked the sick boy's head, and said she hoped 
he would get well soon. She would not have stroked 
the head of one of those big, burly potters; but this 
potter was different he was wofully disfigured, and 
he was sick and lame. Woman's tenderness goes out 
58 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



to homely and unfortunate men read your Victor 

Hugo! 52 55 

And Josiah he was speechless, dumb his tongue 

paralyzed! The room swam and then teetered up and 
down, and everything seemed touched with a strange, 
wondrous light. And in both hands Josiah Wedgwood 
tenderly held that precious copy of James Thomson's 

f O * 

Seasons. 



59 




JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

]N Eighteen Hundred Sixty, just one Hundred 
years after John Wesley visited Burslem, 
Gladstone came here and gave an address 
on the founding of the Wedgwood Memorial 
Institute 53 S3 

Among other things said in the course of his speech 
was this: ** Then comes the well-known smallpox, 
the settling of the dregs of the disease in the lower 
part of the leg, and the eventual amputation of the 
limb, rendering him lame for life* It is not often that 
we have such palpable occasion to record our obligations 
to calamity. But in the wonderful ways of Providence, 
that disease which came to him as a twofold scourge 
was probably the occasion of his subsequent excellence. 
It prevented him from growing up to be the active, 
vigorous workman, possessed of all his limbs, and 
knowing right well the use of them; but it put him 
upon considering whether, as he could not be that, 
he might not be something else, and something greater. 
It sent his mind inward; it drove him to meditate upon 
the laws and secrets of his art. The result was that he 
arrived at a perception and grasp of them which might, 
perhaps, have been envied, certainly have been owned, 
by an Athenian potter. Relentless criticism has long 
since torn to pieces the old legend of King Numa 
receiving in a cavern, from the nymph of Egeria, 
the laws which were to govern Rome. But no criticism 
can shake the record of that illness and that mutilation 
60 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



of the boy Josiati Wedgwood, which made a cavern 
of his "bedroom, and an oracle of his own inquiring, 
searching, meditative mind/* 

You remember how that great and good man, Richard 
Maurice Bucke, once said, " After I had lost my feet 
in the Rocky Mountain avalanche, I lay for six weeks 
in a cabin, and having plenty of time to think it over, 
I concluded that, now my feet were gone, I surely 
could no longer depend upon them, so I must use my 
head/* And he did. 

The loss of an arm in a sawmill was the pivotal point 
that gave us one of the best and strongest lawyers 
in Western New York, And heaven knows we need 
good lawyers: the other kind are so plentiful! 
Gladstone thought it was smallpox that drove Josiah 
Wedgwood to books and art. But other men have had 
the smallpox bless me! and they never acquired 
much else. 

Josiah kept Thomson's ** Seasons " three months, and 
then returned it to Sarah Wedgwood, with a letter 
addressing her as ** Dear Cousin.'* You will find it set 
down in most of the encyclopedias that she was his 
cousin, but this seems to be because writers of encyclo- 
pedias are literaiists, and lovers are poets. 
Josiah said he returned the book for two reasons; 
first, inasmuch as he had committed it to memory, 
he no longer needed it; second, if he sent it back, 
possibly another book might be sent him instead. 

61 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



Squire Wedgwood answered this letter himself, and 
sent two books, with a good, long letter of advice 
about improving one's time, and " not wasting life 
in gambling and strong drink, as most potters do.** 
f Six months had passed since the Squire and his 
daughter had been to Bursiem. Josiah was much better. 
He was again at work In the pottery. And now, instead 
of making brown butter-crocks and stone jugs all of 
the time, he was experimenting in glazes. In fact, he 
had made a little wooden workbox and covered it over 
with tiny pieces of ornamental " porcelain " in a semi- 
transparent green color, that he had made himself. 
And this pretty box he sent to Sarah. Unfortunately, 
the package was carried on horseback in a bag by the 
mail-carrier, and on the way the horse lay down, or 
fell down and rolled on the mail-bag, reducing the 
pretty present to fragments. When the wreck was 
delivered to Sarah, she consulted with her father about 
what should be done. 

We ask advice, not because we want it, but because 
we wish to be backed up in the thing we desire to do. 
f Sarah wrote to Josiah, acknowledging receipt of the 
box, praising its beauty in lavish terms, but not a word 
about the condition in which it arrived. A few weeks 
afterward the Squire wrote on his own account and sent 
ten shillings for two more boxes " just like the first, 
only different." Ten shillings was about what Josiah 
was getting for a month's work, fj Josiah was now 
62 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



spending all of his spare time and money in experi- 
menting with new clays and colors, and so the ten 
shillings came in very handy. 

He had made ladles, then spoons, and knife-handles 
to take the place of horn, and samples of all his best 
work he sent on to his ** Uncle Richard/' 
His brother Thomas was very much put out over this 
trifling. He knew no way to succeed, save to stick to 
the same old ways and processes that had always been 
employed. Josiah chafed under the sharp chidings of 
his brother, and must have written something about 
it to Sarah, for the Squire sent some of the small wares 
made by Josiah over to Sheffield to one of the big cut- 
lers, and the cutler wrote back saying he would like 
to engage the services of so talented a person as the 
young man who could make a snuffbox with beautiful 
leaves modeled on it. Thomas Wedgwood, however, 
refused to allow his brother to leave, claiming the 
legal guardianship over him until he was twenty-one. 
From this we assume that Josiah's services were valu- 
able 53 53 

Josiah had safely turned his twenty-first year before 
he decided to go down to Cheshire and see his Uncle 
Richard. He had anticipated the visit for weeks, but 
now as he was on the verge of starting he was ready 
to back out. A formal letter of excuse, and apology was 
written, but never dispatched. On the appointed day, 
Josiah was duly let down from the postman's cart at 

63 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

the gate of Squire Wedgwood, Spen Green, Cheshire. 
The young woman who came down the steps to meet 
him at the gate might indeed be Sarah Wedgwood, 
but she wasn't the same little girl who had ridden 
over to Burslem on a pillion behind her father! She 
was tall, slender, and light of step. She was a dream 
of grace and beauty, and her presence seemed to fill 
the landscape. Over Josiah's being ran a bitter regret 
that he had come at all* He looked about for a good 
place to hide, then he tried to say something about 
" how glad I am to be here," but there was a bur on 
his tongue and so he stammered, ** The roads are very 
muddy/' In his pocket he had the letter of regret, 
and he came near handing it to her and climbing into 
the postman's cart that still stood there. 
He started to go through the gate, and the postman 
coughed, and asked him for his fare. When the fare 
was paid, Josiah felt sure that Sarah thought he had 
tried to cheat the poor postman. 
He protested to her that he had n't, in a strange falsetto 
voice that was not his own. 

As they walked toward the house, Josiah was conscious 
he was limping, and as he passed his hand over his 
forehead he felt the pockmarks stand out like moles. 
<I And she was so gracious and sprightly and so beauti- 
ful! He knew she was beautiful, although he really 
had not looked at her; but he realized the faint perfume 
of her presence, and he knew her dress was a light blue 
64 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

the color of Ills favorite glaze. J He decided he would 
ask her for a sample of the cloth that he might make 
her a plate just like it. 

When they were seated on the veranda, over which 
were climbing-roses, the young lady addressed him 
as " Mr. Wedgwood/' whereas in her letters she had 
called him " Dear Cousin " or " Josiah/' 
It was now Sarah's turn to be uncomfortable, and this 
was a great relief to him. He felt he must put her at 
ease, so he said, ** These roses would look well on a 
platter I will model one for you when I go home/* 
This helped things a little, and the girl offered to show 
him the garden. There were no flowers in Burslem. 
People had no time to take care of them. 
And just then the Squire appeared, bluff, bold and 
hearty, and soon everything was all right. That evening 
the young lady played for them on the harpsichord; 
the father told stories and laughed heartily at them 
because nobody else did; and Josiah seated in a dim 
corner recited pages from Thomson's ** Seasons/' 
and the next day was frightened at his temerity. 



65 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 




HEN Josiah returned to Burslem, it was 
with the firm determination that he must 
get away from his brother and branch out 
for himself. That he loved Sarah or had any 
idea of wedding her, he was not conscious. Yet her 
life to him was a great living presence, and all of his 
plans for the future were made with her in mind. Brown 
butter-crocks were absolutely out of the question! 
It was blue plates, covered with vines and roses, or 
nothing; and he even had visions of a tea-set covered 
with cupids and flying angels. 

In a few weeks we find Josiah over near Sheffield making 
knife-handles for a Mr. Harrison, an ambitious cutler, 
Harrison lacked the art spirit and was found too merce- 
nary for our young man, who soon after formed a 
partnership with a man named Whieldon, ** to make 
tortoise-shell and ivory from ground flint and other 
stones by processes secret to said Wedgwood/ 5 Whieldon 
furnished the money and Wedgwood the skilL Up to 
this time the pottery business in England had consisted 
in using the local clays. Wedgwood invented a mill for 
grinding stone, and experimented with every kind\of 
rock he could lay his hands on. 

He also became a skilled modeler, and his success at 
ornamenting the utensils and pretty things they made 
caused the business to prosper. In a year he had saved 
up a hundred pounds of his own. This certainly was 
quite a fortune, and Sarah had written him, '" I am 
66 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



so proud of your success we all predict for you a great 
future/' 53 53 

Suck assurances had a sort of undue weight with Josiah, 
for we find him not long after making bold to call on 
Squire Wedgwood on ** a matter of most important 
business/' 

The inspired reader need not be told what that business 
was. Just let it go that the Squire told Josiah he was 
a fool to expect that the only daughter of Richard 
Wedgwood, Esquire, retired monger in Cheshire cheese, 
should think of contracting marriage with a lame potter 
from Burslem. Gadzooks! The girl would some day be 
heiress to ten thousand pounds or so, and the man she 
would marry must match her dowry, guinea for guinea. 
And another thing: a nephew of Lord Bedford, a rising 
young barrister of London, had already asked for her 
hand 53 53 

To be a friend to a likely potter was n't the same as 
asking him into the family! 

Josiah's total sum of assurance had been exhausted 
when he blurted out his proposal to the proud father; 
there was now nothing he could do but to grow first 
red and then white. He was suppressed, undone, and 
he could not think of a thing to say, or an argument to 
put forth. The air seemed stifling. He stumbled down 
the steps and started down the road as abruptly as he 
had appeared. 

What he would do or where he would go were very 

67 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



Lazy propositions in his mind. He limped along and 
had gone perhaps a mile. Things were getting clearer 
in his mind. His first decision as sanity returned was 
that he would ask the first passer-by which way it was 
to the river. 

Now he was getting mad. <fi A Burslein potter! " that 
is what the Squire called him, and a lame one at that! 
It was a taunt, an epithet, an insult! To call a person 
a Burslein potter was to accuse him of being almost 
everything that was bad. 

The stage did not go until the next day Josiah had 
slackened his pace and was looking about for an inn. 
He would get supper first anyway, and then the river 
it would only be one Burslein potter less. 
And just then there was a faint cry of " Oh, Josiah! " 
and a vision of blue. Sarah was right there behind him, 
all out of breath from running across the meadows. 
" Oh, Josiah I I just wanted to say that I hate 
that barrister! And then you heard papa say that 
you must match my dowry, guinea for guinea I 
am sorry it is so much, but you can do it, Josiah, you 
can do it! " 

She held out her hand and Josiah clutched and twisted 
it, and then smacked at it, but smacked into space, 
<I And the girl was gone ! She was running away from 
him. He could not hope to catch her he was lame, 
and she was agile as a fawn. She stepped upon a stile 
that led over through the meadow, and as she stood 
68 



JOS1AH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

there she waved her Land, and Josiah afterward thought 
she said, " Match my dowry, guinea for guinea, Josiah: 
you can do it, you can do it." Just an instant she stood 
there, and then she ran across the meadow and dis- 
appeared amid the oaks. 

An old woman came by and saw him staring at the 
trees, but he did not ask her the way to the river 38 



69 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 




"ROM a shy youth, Joslah Wedgwood had 
evolved into a man of affairs, and was surely 
doing a man's work. He had spent about 
five years making curious earthenware orna- 
ments for the Sheffield cutlers; and then with full one 
thousand pounds he had come back to Burslem and 
started business on his own account. He had read and 
studied and worked, and he had evolved. He was an 
educated man; that is to say, he was a competent and 
useful man. He determined to free Burslem from the 
taint that had fallen upon it. " Burslem? " he once 
wrote to Sarah, ** Burslem? the name shall yet be a 
symbol of all that is beautiful, honest and true; we 
shall see! I am a potter yes, but 111 be the best one 
that England has ever seen/* 

And the flower-garden was one of the moves in the 
direction of evolution. 

Occasionally, Josiah made visits to Cheshire, riding 
forty miles on horseback, for he now had horses of 
his own. The roads in Spring and Winter were des- 
perately bad, but Josiah by persistent agitation had 
gotten Parliament to widen and repair, at the expense 
of several hundred pounds, the road between Lawton 
In Cheshire to Cliffe Bank at Staffordshire. 
And it so happened that this was the road which led 
from where Wedgwood lived to where lived his ladylove. 
Josiah and Sarah had many a smile over the fact that 
Cupid had taken a hand in road-building. Evidently 
70 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



Dan Cupid is a very busy and versatile individual* 
f Sarah was her father's housekeeper. She had one 
brother* a young man of meager qualities. These 
two were joint heirs to their father's estate of some- 
thing over twenty thousand pounds. Josiah and Sarah 
thought what a terrible blow it would be if this brother 
should die and Sarah thus have her dowry doubled! 
f The Squire depended upon Sarah in many ways. 
She wrote his letters and kept his accounts; and his 
fear for her future was founded on a selfish wish not 
to lose her society and services, quite as much as a 
solicitude for her happiness. 

For a year after Josiah had exploded his bombshell 
by asking Squire Richard for his daughter's hand* 
the lover was forbidden the house, 
Then the Squire relaxed so far that he allowed Josiah 
and Sarah to meet in his presence. And finally there 
was a frank three-cornered understanding. And that 
was that, when Josiah could show that he had ten 
thousand pounds in his own name, the marriage would 
take place. This propensity on the part of parents to 
live their children's lives is very common. Few be the 
parents and very great are they who can give liberty 
and realize that their children are only loaned to them. 
I fear we parents are prone to be perverse and selfish. 
f Josiah and Sarah reviewed their status from all sides. 
They could have thrown the old gentleman overboard 
entirely and cut for Gretna Green* but that would have 

71 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



cost them an even ten thousand pounds. It would also 
Lave secured the Squire's enmity, and might have 
caused him a fit of apoplexy. And surely, as It was, 
the lovers were not lost to each other. To wed is often 
fatal to romance ; but it is expecting too much to suppose 
that lovers will reason that too much propinquity is 
often worse than obstacle. The road between them was 
a good one the letter-carrier made three trips a week, 
and an irascible parent could not stop dreams, nor veto 
telepathy, even if he did pass a law that one short visit 
a month was the limit. 

Lovers not only laugh at locksmiths, but at most every- 
thing else. Josiah and Sarah kept the line warm with 
a stream of books, papers, manuscripts and letters. 
By meeting the mail-carrier a mile out of the village, 
the vigilant Squire's censorship was curtailed by Sarah 
to reasonable proportions. 

And so the worthy Richard had added the joys of 
smuggling to the natural sweets of a grand passion. 
In thus giving zest to the chase, no thanks, however, 
should be sent his way. Even stout and stubborn old 
gentlemen with side-whiskers have their uses. 
And it was about this time that John Wesley came to 
Burslem and was surprised to find a flower-garden 
in a community of potters. He looked at the flowers, 
had a casual interview with the owner and wrote, 
" His soul is near to God/* 

72 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 




]EDGWOOD knew every part of his business* 
He modeled, made designs, mixed clay, built 
kilns, and at times sat up all night and fed 
fuel into a refractory furnace. Nothing was 
quite good enough it must be better* And to make 
better pottery, he said, we must produce better people. 
He even came very close to plagiarizing Walt Whitman 
by saying, " Produce great people the rest follows! ** 
Wedgwood instituted a class in designing and brought 
a young man from London to teach his people the rudi- 
ments of art. 

Orders were coming in from, nobility for dinner-sets, 
and the English middle class, instead of dipping Into 
one big pot set in the center of the table, were adopting 
individual plates. 

Knives and forks came into use in England about the 
time of Good Queen Bess, who was only fairly good. 
Sir Walter Raleigh, who never posted signs reading, 
" No Smoking/' records, ** Tiny forks are being used 
to spear things at table, instead of the thumb-and-finger 
method sanctified by long use/* But until the time of 
Wedgwood a plate and a cup for each person at the 
table was a privilege only of the nobility, and napkins 
and finger-bowls were on the distant horizon. 
Wedgwood had not only to educate his workmen* 
but he had also to educate the public. But he made 
head. He had gotten a good road to Cheshire, and 
an equally good one to Liverpool, and was shipping 

73 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



crockery in large quantities to America. Occasionally, 
Wedgwood taught the designing classes, himself. As 
a writer he had developed a good deal of facility, for 
three love-letters a week for five years will educate 
any man. To know the right woman is a liberal edu- 
cation. Wedgwood also had given local addresses on 
the necessity of good roads, and the influence of a tidy 
back-yard on character. 

He was a little past thirty years old, sole owner of a 
prosperous business and was worth pretty near the 
magic sum of ten thousand pounds. 
Squire Wedgwood had been formally notified to come 
over to Burslem and take an inventory. He came, 
coughed and said that pottery was only a foolish 
fashion, and people would soon get enough of it. 
Richard felt sure that common folks would never 
have much use for dishes. 

On being brought back to concrete reasons, he declared 
that his daughter's dowry had increased, very much 
increased, through wise investments of his own. The 
girl had a good home better than she would have at 
Burslem. The man who married her must better her 
condition, etc., etc. 

It seems that Josiah and Sarah had a little of the good 
Semitic instinct in their make-up. The old gentleman 
must be managed; the dowry was too valuable to let 
slip. They needed the money in their business, and 
had even planned just what they would do with it. 
74 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



They were going to found a sort of Art Colony, where 
all would work for the love of it, and where would take 
place a revival of the work of the Etruscans. As classic 
literature had been duplicated, and the learning of the 
past had come down to us in books, so would they 
duplicate in miniature the statues, vases, bronzes 
and other marvelous beauty of antiquity. 
And the name of the new center of art was chosen 
it should be " Etruria/' It was a great dream; but 
then lovers are given to dreams: in fact, they Kave 
almost a monopoly on the habit I 



75 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 




REAT people have great friends. Wedgwood 
Lad a friend in Liverpool named Bentley 
Bentley was a big man a gracious, kindly, 
generous, receptive, broad, sympathetic man. 
Your friend is the lengthened shadow of yourself 38 
Bentiey was both an artist and a businessman. Bentley 
had no quibble or quarrel with himself, and therefore 
was at peace with the world; he had eliminated all grouch 
from his cosmos. Bentley began as Wedgwood's agent, 
and finally became his partner, and had a deal to do 
with the evolution of Etruria* 

When Bentley opened a showroom in London and 
showed the exquisite, classic creations of Flaxman 
and the other Wedgwood artists, carriages blocked 
the streets, and cards of admission had to be issued 
to keep back the crowds. Bentley dispatched a mes- 
senger to Wedgwood with the order, " Turn every 
available man on vases London is vase mad! " 33 
A vase, by the way, is a piece of pottery that sells for 
from one to ten shillings; if it sells for more than ten 
shillings, you should pronounce it vawse. 
On the ninth of January, Seventeen Hundred Sixty- 
four, Wedgwood wrote Bentley this letter: " If you 
know my temper and sentiments on these affairs, you 
will be sensible how I am mortified when I tell you 
I have gone through a long series of bargain-making, 
of settlements, reversions, provisions and so on. * Gone 
through it,' did I say? Would to Hymen that I had! 
76 



JOS1AH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 

No! I am still in the attorney's hands, from which I 
hope it is no harm to pray, * Good Lord, Deliver me! * 
Sarah and I are perfectly agreed, and would settle 
the whole affair in three minutes; but our dear papa, 
over-careful of his daughter's interest, would by some 
demands which I can not comply with, go near to 
separate us if we were not better determined. 
** On Friday next. Squire Wedgwood and I are to meet 
in great form, with each of us our attorney, which I 
hope will prove conclusive. You shall then hear further 
from your obliged and very affectionate friend, Josiah 
Wedgwood/* 

4< On January Twenty-ninth, Sarah and Josiah walked 
over to the little village of Astbury, Cheshire, and were 
quietly married, the witnesses being the rector's own 
family, and the mail-carrier. Just why the latter indi- 
vidual was called in to sign the register has never been 
explained, but I imagine most lovers can. He surely 
had been **particeps criminis " to the event. 
And so they were married, and lived happily afterward. 
Josiah was thirty-four, and Sarah twenty-nine when 
they were married. The ten years of Laban service 
was not without its compensation. The lovers had 
lived in an ideal world long enough to crystallize their 
dreams 3& 33 

In just a year after the marriage a daughter was born 
to Mr, and Mrs. Josiah Wedgwood, and they called 
her name Susannah* 

77 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



And Susannah grew up and became the mother of 
Charles Darwin, the greatest scientist the world has 
ever produced. 

Writers of romances have a way of leaving their lovers 
at the church-door, a cautious and wise expedient, since 
too often love is one thing and life another. But here 
we find a case where love was worked into life. From 
the date of his marriage Wedgwood's business moved 
forward with never a reverse nor a single setback 53 
When Wedgwood and Bentley were designated ** Pot- 
ters to the Queen/' and began making " queensware," 
coining the word, they laid the sure foundation for 
one of the greatest business fortunes ever accumulated 
in England. 

Two miles from Burslem, they built the little village 
of Etruria a palpable infringement on the East Aurora 
caveat. And so the dream all came true, and in fact 
was a hundred times beyond what the lovers had ever 
imagined Si 53 

Sarah's brother accommodatingly died a few years 
after her marriage, and so she became sole heiress to 
a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, and this went 
to the building up of Etruria. 

Wedgwood, toward the close of his life, was regarded 
as the richest man in England who had made his own 
fortune. And better still, he was rich in intellect and 
all those finer faculties that go into the making of a 
great and generous man. 
78 



JOSIAH AND SARAH WEDGWOOD 



Twenty-two years after his marriage, Wedgwood wrote 
to his friend Lord Gower: ** I never had a great plan 
that 1 did not submit to my wife. She knew all the 
details of the business, and it was her love for the beau- 
tiful that first prompted and inspired me to take up 
Grecian and Roman Art, and in degree, reproduce 
the Classic for the world. I worked for her approval, 
and without her high faith in me I realize that my 
physical misfortunes would have overcome my will, 
and failure would have been written large where now 
England has carved the word Success/' 



79 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 




' 



WILLIAM 



If children are to be educated to understand the true 

principle of patriotism, their mother should be a patriot; 
and the love of mankind, from which an orderly train 
of virtues springs, can only be produced by considering 
the moral and civil interest of the race. Woman should 
be prepared by education to become the companion 
of man, or she will stop the progress of knowledge, for 
truth must be common to all, or it will be inefficacious 
with respect to its influence on general practise. 

-Mary Wottstonecraft 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 




THERS may trace the love-tales 
of milkmaids and farmhands; I 
deal with the people who have 
made their mark upon the times; 
people who have tinted the world's 
thought-fabric and to whose genius 
we are all heirs. And the reason 
the story of their love is vital to 
us is because their love was vital to them. Thought is 
born of parents, and literature is the child of married 
minds* So this, then, is the love-story of William God- 
win and Mary Wollstonecraft, 

History and literature are very closely related. If one 
sets down the chief events in political history, and over 
against these writes the names of the radical authors 
and orators of the time, he can not but be convinced 
that literature leads, and soldiers and politicians are 
puppets tossed on the tide of time. A thought, well 
expressed, is a bomb that explodes indefinitely* 
Two men* Rousseau and Voltaire, lighted the fuse 
that created the explosion known as the French Revo- 
lution. Luther's books and sermons brought about 
the Reformation. 

Thomas Paine's little book, ** The Crisis/* of which 
half a million copies were printed and distributed 

83 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



from Virginia to Maine, stirred the Colonists to the 
sticking-point; and George Washington, who was 
neither a writer nor an orator, paid " Letters and 
Truth " the tribute of saying, " Without the pamphlets 
of Thomas Paine the hearts and minds of the people 
would never have been prepared to respond to our call 
for troops/* No one disputes now that it was a book 
written by a woman, of which a million copies were 
sold in the North, that prepared the way for Lincoln's 
call for volunteers. 

Literature and oratory are arsenals that supply the 
people their armament of reasons. And through the 
use and exercise of these borrowed reasons, we learn 
to create new ones for ourselves. Thinkers prepare the 
way for thinkers, and every John the Baptist uttering 
his cry in the wilderness is heard. 
And the fate of John the Baptist, and the fate of the 
Man whom he preceded, are typical of the fate of all 
who are bold enough to carry the standard of revolt 
into the camp of the entrenched enemy. The Cross 
is a mighty privilege; and only the sublimely great 
are able to pay the price at which hemlock is held 33 
Buddha said that the finest word in any language is 
" Equanimity/' This is a paradox, and like every 
paradox implies that the reverse is equally true. Equa- 
nimity in the face of opposition, steadfastness in time 
of stress, and wise and useful purpose, are truly godlike. 
<I And there is only one thing worth fighting for, talking 
84 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



for, or writing for; and all literature and all oratory 
have this for their central theme Freedom. It was 
only Freedom that could lure Cincinnatus from his 
plow or Lincoln from his law-office. 
And so Mary Wollstonecraft's book, " The Rights of 
Woman./' was the first strong, earnest, ringing word 
on the subject. She summed up the theme once and 
for all, just as an essay by Herbert Spencer anticipates 
and answers every objection, exhausting the theme. 
And that the author had a whimsical touch of humor 
in her composition is shown in that she dedicates the 
book to that Prince of Woman-Haters, " Talleyrand, 
Late Bishop of Autun/' 

" Political Justice/* by William Godwin, was published 
in Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three. The work, on its 
first appearance, created a profound impression among 
English thinking people, although orthodoxy has almost 
succeeded in smothering it in silence since John Stuart 
Mill declared that this book created an epoch and 
deserved to rank with Milton's " Speech for Unlicensed 
Printing/' Locke's " Essay on Human Understanding " 
or Jean Jacques' " Emile/* That it was a positive force 
in Mill's own life he always admitted. 
However, it is only within our own time only, in fact, 
since Eighteen Hundred Seventy-six that the views 
of Godwin as expressed in ** Political Justice " have been 
adopted by the spirit of Christendom. Godwin believed 
in the perfectibility of the race, and proved that man's 

"85 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



career has been a constant movement forward. That 
is, there never was a " Fall of Man." Man has always 
fallen upward, and when he has kicked the ball it has 
always been toward the goal Godwin believed that it 
was well to scan the faults of our fellows closely, in 
order to see, forsooth, whether they are not their virtues. 
The belief that mankind should by nature tend to evil, 
he considered absurd and unscientific, for the strongest 
instinct in all creation is self-preservation; and that 
certain men should love darkness rather than light 
was mainly because governments and religions have 
warped man's nature through oppression and coercion 
until it no longer acts normally. " Normal man seeks 
the light, just as the flowers do. Man, if not too much 
interfered with, will make for himself the best possible 
environment and create for his children right con- 
ditions because the instinct for peace and liberty is 
deeply rooted in his nature. Control by another has 
led to revolt, and revolt has led to oppression, and 
oppression occasions grief and deadness: hence bruises 
and distortion follow. When we view humanity, we 
behold not the true and natural man, but a deformed 
and pitiable product, undone by the vices of those 
who have sought to improve on Nature by shaping 
his life to feed the vanity of a few and minister to their 
wantonness. In our plans for social betterment, let 
BS hold in mind the healthy and unfettered man, and 
not the cripple that interference and restraint have 
86 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



made/' f Godwin, like Robert Ingersoll, was the son 
of a clergyman, which reminds me that liberal thought 
is under great obligations to the clergy, since their sons 9 
taught by antithesis, are often shining lights of radical- 
ism. Godwin was a non-resistant, philosophic anarchist. 
He was the true predecessor of George Eliot, Walt 
Whitman, Henry Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy, and the 
best that is now being expressed from advanced Chris- 
tian pulpits harks back to him. All that the foremost 
of our contemporary thinkers have written and said 
was suggested and touched upon by William Godwin 
and Mary Woilstonecraft, with like conclusions. 



87 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 




1ARNEGIE Is credited with this: "There is 
only one generation between shirt-sleeves 
and shirt-sleeves/' Now, the grandfather of 
Mary WoIIstonecraft was an employing- 
weaver who did his work so well that his wares com- 
manded a price. 

He grew rich, and when he died he left a fortune of 
some thirty thousand pounds, not being able to take 
it with him. This fortune descended to his eldest son. 
f Samuel Johnson thought the law of primogeniture 
a most excellent thing, since it insured there being 
only one fool in the family. The WoIIstonecraft boys 
who had no money went to work, and in taking care 
of themselves became strong, sturdy and prosperous 
men. The one who succeeded to the patrimony was at 
first a gentleman, then a shabby-genteel, and at forty 
his time was taken up with schemes to dodge the 
debtors' prison, and with plans to pay off the National 
Debt; for it seems that men who can not manage their 
own affairs are not deterred thereby from volunteering 
to look after those of the nation. 
It appears, also, that Mr, WoIIstonecraft wrote a book 
entitled, " How to Command Success," and by its sale 
hoped to retrieve the fortune now lost but alas! he 
ran in debt to the printer and finally sold the copyright 
to that worthy for five shillings, and on the proceeds 
got plain drunk. 
The family moved as often as landlords demanded* 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 

which was about every three months. There were three 
girls in the family Mary, Everina and Eliza all above 
the average in intelligence. Whether there is any 
such thing in Nature as justice for the individual is a 
question, but cosmic justice is beyond cavil. The stupid- 
ity of a parent is often a very precious factor in the 
evolution of his children. He teaches them by antithesis. 
So if a man can not be useful and strong, all is not lost: 
he can still serve humanity as a horrible example 
like the honest hobo who volunteered to pay the farmer 
for his dinner by acting as a scarecrow. Children of 
drunkards make temperance fanatics; and those who 
have a shiftless father stand a better chance of develop- 
ing into financiers than if they had a parent who would 
set them up in business, stand between them and dan- 
ger, and meet the deficit. 

Women married to punk husbands need not be dis- 
couraged, nor should husbands with nagging wives 
be cast down, for was it not Emerson who said, " It 
is better to be a nettle in the side of your friend than. 
his echo> ** 

Thus do all things work together for good, whether 
you love the Lord or not. 

The Wollstonecraf t family traversed London with their 
handcart, from Chelsea to East End; they also roamed 
through Essex, Yorkshire and Kent. When matters 
became strained they fell back on London, paid one 
month's rent in advance and then stayed three, when 

89 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



their goods and chattels were gently landed on the curb* 
and the handcart came in handy. 
As the girls grew up they worked at weaving, served as 
house-girls and nurses, and finally Mary became a 
governess in the family of Lord Kingsborough, an Irish 
nobleman. This gave her access to her employer's 
library, and she went at it as a hungry colt enters a 
clover-field. Not knowing how long her good fortune 
would last, she eagerly improved her time. She wrote 
frequent letters to her sisters, telling what she was doing 
and what she was reading. She was eminently superior 
to any of the females in the family, and acknowledged 
it. A tutor in the house taught her French; and whether 
the nobleman's children learned much or not, we do 
not know, but Mary soon equaled her teacher. 
Knowledge is a matter of desire. 

The next year the Wollstonecraf t girls opened a private 
school, a kind of *' Young Ladies' Establishment," 
quite on the Mrs. Nickleby order. And indeed, if a 
Micawber had been wanting, Mary knew where to 
look for him. 

About this time Mary met Ursa Major, who may have 
treated men very rudely, but not your petite, animated 
and clever women 33 3& 

Doctor Johnson quite liked little Mary Wollstonecraf t. 
She matched her wit against his and put him on his 
mettle, and when Mary once expressed a desire to 
become an authoress he encouraged her by saying, 
90 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



** Yes* my dear, you should write, for that Is the way 
to learn; and no matter how badly you write, you can 
always be encouraged by finding men who write worse/* 
And another time he said, " Women have quite as much 
interest In life as men, and see things just as clearly, 
and why they should not write the last word as well 
as speak it, I do not know/' 

That settled It with Mary: She gave up her part in 
the school; and very soon after, the sisters gave up 
theirs; one of them wedding a ne'er-do-well scion of 
nobility, and the other marrying an orthodox curate 
with a harelip- Through the help of Doctor Johnson, 
Mary got a position as proofreader with a publisher. 
Here her knowledge of French was valuable, and she 
assisted in translations. Then she became literary 
adviser and reader for different publishers. She was 
making money, and had accumulated a little fortune 
of near a hundred pounds by the sweat of her brain, 
Her close acquaintanceship with printers and pub- 
lishers thus placed her where she became acquainted 
with several statesmen who had speeches to make, 
and for these she constructed arguments and also 
helped them out of dire difficulties by rounding out 
their periods, and by introducing flights of fancy for 
men whose fancies were wingless. 
On her own account she had written various stories 
and essays. She had met the wits and thinkers of 
London and had learned to take care of herself. She 

91 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



was an honest, industrious, and highly intelligent 
woman, and commanded the respect of those who knew 
her best. " To know her/' says Godwin in his Memoirs, 
s * was to love her, and those who did not love her, did 
not know her.'* 

Of course, she was an exceptional person, for have I 
not intimated that she was a thinker? This was over 
a hundred years ago, and thinkers were as scarce then 
as now, for even so-called educated folk, for the most 
part, only think that they think. Frederic Harrison did 
not stray far a-field when he referred to Charlotte Per- 
kins Gilman as a reincarnation of Mary Wollstonecraf t. 
<|Mary Wollstonecraf t had translated Rousseau's 
"Emile" into English, and had read Voltaire closely 
and with appreciation. 

The momentous times of Seventeen Hundred Ninety- 
two were on in Paris. That mob of women, ragged 
and draggled, had tramped out to Versailles, and Marie 
Antoinette, a foolish girl who rattled around in a place 
that should have been occupied by a Queen, had looked 
out of the window and propounded her immortal 
question, " What do they want? " 
** Bread! " was the answer. 

" Why don't they eat cake? " asked Her Chatterbox. 
<I Mary Wollstonecraf t was a revolutionary by nature. 
Looking about her she saw London seething with 
swarms of humanity just one day's rations removed 
from starvation. A few miles away she saw acres upon 
92 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



acres thousands of acres kept and guarded for private 
parks and game-preserves. Then it was that she supplied 
Henry George that fine phrase, " Man is a land animal/' 
And she fully comprehended that the question of human 
rights will never be ended until we settle the land 
question. She said: " Man is a land animal and to 
deprive the many of the right to till the soil is like 
depriving fishes of the right to swim in the sea. You 
force fish into a net, and they cease to thrive; you 
entrap men, through economic necessity, in cities, 
and allow a few to control the land, and you perpetuate 
ignorance and crime. And eventually you breed a race of 
beings who take no joy in Nature, never having gotten 
acquainted with her. The problem is not one of religion, 
but of commonsense in economics. Back to the land!" 
Of course a writing woman who could think like this 
was deeply interested in the unrest across the Channel 
<I And so Mary packed up and went over to Paris, 
lured by three things: a curiosity concerning the great 
social experiment being there worked out; an ambition 
to perfect herself in the French language by speaking 
only French; a writer's natural thirst for good copy, 
f In all these things the sojourn of Mary Wollstone- 
craft in Paris was an eminent success, but tragedy 
was lurking and lying in wait for her. And it came to 
her as it has come for women ever since time began 
through that awful handicap, her nature's crying need 

for affection. 

93 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 




N Paris martial law reigned supreme; in the 
streets the death-tumbrel rattled, and through 
a crack In the closed casement Mary Woll- 
stonecraft peered cautiously out and saw 
Louis the Sixteenth riding calmly to his death. The 
fact that she was an Englishwoman brought Mary 
Wollstonecraft under suspicion, for the English sym- 
pathized with royalty. When men with bloody hands 
come to your door, and question you concerning your 
business and motives, the mind Is not ripe for literature! 
f The letters Mary Wollstonecraft had written for 
English journals she now destroyed, since she could 
not mail them, and to keep them was to run the risk 
of having them misinterpreted. The air was full of fear 
and fever. 

No one was allowed to leave the city unless positively 
necessary, and to ask permission to go was to place 
one's self under surveillance. 

It was at this time that Mary Wollstonecraft met 
Gilbert Imlay, an American, who had fought with 
Lafayette and Washington. He was a man of some 
means, alert, active and of good address. On account 
of his relationship with Lafayette, he stood well with 
the revolutionaries of Paris. He was stopping at the 
same hotel where Mary lodged, and very naturally, 
speaking the same language, they became acquainted. 
She allowed herself to be placed under his protection, 
and their simple friendship soon ripened into a warmer 
94 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



feeling. Love is largely a matter of propinquity. <f It 
was a time when all formal rites were in abeyance; 
and in England any marriage-contract made in France, 
and not sanctified by the clergy, was not regarded as 
legal. Mary Wollstonecraft became Mrs. Mary Imlay, 
and that she regarded herself as much the wife of Imlay 
as God and right could command, there is no doubt. 
fl In a few months the tempest and tumult subsided 
so they got away from Paris to Havre, where Imlay 
was interested in a shipping-office. At Havre their 
daughter Fanny was born. 

Imlay had made investments in timber-lands in Nor- 
way, and was shipping lumber to France. Some of these 
ventures turned out well, and Imlay extended Ms 
investments on borrowed capital. The man was a nomad 
by nature generous, extravagant and kind but he 
lacked the patience and application required to succeed 
as a businessman. He could not wait he wanted quick 
returns 53 53 

The wife had insight and intellect, and could follow a 
reason to its lair. Imlay skimmed the surface. 
Leaving his wife and babe at Havre, he went across 
to London* Mary once made a trip to Norway for him, 
with the power of attorney, to act as she thought best 
in his interests. In Norway she found that much of the 
land that Imlay had bought was worthless, being already 
stripped of its timber. However, she improved the time 
by writing letters for London papers, and these 

95 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



eventually found form in her book entitled, ** Letters 
From Norway/' 

Arriving at Havre she found that Imlay had dismantled 
their home, and for a time she did not know his where- 
abouts. Later they met in London. 
When the time of separation came, however, she was 
sufficiently disillusioned to make the actual parting 
without pain. When Imlay saw she would no longer 
consent to be his wife, he proposed to provide for her, 
but she declined the offer, fearing it would give him 
some claim upon her and upon their child. And so 
Gilbert Imlay sailed away to America and out of the 
life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Exit Imlay. 



96 




MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 

jN London the position of Mary WoIIstone- 
craft was most trying. 

Penniless, deserted by Imlay, her husband, 
with a hungry babe at her breast, she was 
looked at askance by most of her old acquaintances. 
There were not wanting good folks who gathered their 
skirts about them, sneezed as she passed, and said, 
** I told you so.*' 

Her brother Charles a degenerate, pettifogging bar- 
rister, with all his father's faults and none of his grand- 
father's virtues for whom Mary had advanced money 
so that he could go to college, came to her in her dire 
extremity and proffered help. But it was on condition 
that she should give up her babe and allow him to place 
it in a foundlings' home. This being done, the virtuous 
Charles would get Mary a position as weaver in a 
woolen-mill, under an assumed name, and the past 
would be as if it never had been. This in the face of 
the assertion of Pliny, who said, eighteen hundred 
years before, that one of the things even God could 
not do, was to obliterate the past; and of Omar's words, 
41 Nor all your tears shall blot a line of it." 
The mental processes of Charles are shown in his sug- 
gestion of a pleasant plan whereby Imlay could be 
lured back to England, arrested, and with the assistance 
of a bumbailiff , marriage forced upon him. His scheme 
was rejected by the obdurate Mary, who held that the 
very essence of marriage was freedom. Q - 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



The tragic humor of the action of Charles turns on 
his assumption that his sister was " a fallen woman/' 
and must be saved from disgrace. This opinion was 
shared by various other shady respectables, who kept 
the matter secret by lifting a soprano wail of woe from 
the housetops, declaring that Mary had smirched their 
good names and those of their friends by her outrageous 
conduct. These people also busied themselves in spread- 
ing a report that Mary had gone into " French ways/* 
it being strongly held, then as now, by the rank and file 
of burly English beef-eaters, male and female, that 
morality in France is an iridescent dream only that 
is not the exact expression they use. 
Hope sank in the heart of the lone woman, and for a 
few weeks it appeared that suicide was the only way 
out. As for parting with her child, or with her brother 
Charles and his kin, Mary would stand by her child. 
It is related that on one occasion her sister Everina 
came to visit her, and Mary made bold to minister to 
her babe in the beautiful maternal way sanctified by 
time, before bottle-babies became the vogue and Nature 
was voted vulgar. The sight proved too much for 
Everina's nerves, and she fainted, first loudly calling 
for the camphor. 

The family din evidently caused Mary to go a step 
further than she otherwise might, and she dropped the 
name Imlay and called herself plain Mary Wollstone- 
craft, thus glorifying the disgrace. This increased 
98 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



fortitude had come about by discovering that she could 
still work and earn enough money to live on by proof- 
reading and translations; and it seemed that she had a 
head full of ideas. There in her lonely lodgings at 
Blackfriars, in the third story back, she was writing 
" The Rights of Woman." The book in places shows 
heat and haste, and its fault is not that it leads people 
in the wrong direction, but that it leads them too far in 
the right direction that is, further than a sin-stained 
and hypocritical world can follow. 
When men deserve the ideal, it will be here. If mankind 
were honest and unselfish, then every proposition held 
out by Mary Wollstonecraft would hold true. Her book 
is a vindication, in one sense, of her own position for 
at the last, all literature is a confession. But Mary 
Wollstonecraft's book is also a plea for faith in the 
Divinity that shapes humanity and " leads us on amid 
the encircling gloom/* 

It is moreover a protest against the theological idea that 
woman is the instrument of the Devil, who tempted 
man to his ruin. Very frank is the entire expression, all 
written by a Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a pure woman 
whom Fate had freed from the conventional, and who, 
wanting little and having nothing to lose, not even a 
reputation, was placed in a position where she could 
speak the truth. 
Parts of the book seem trite enough to us at this day, 

since many of the things advocated have come about* 

-99 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



and we accept them as if they always were. For instance, 
there is an argument in favor of women being employed 
as schoolteachers; then there is the plea for public 
schools and for co-education. 



100 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 




ILLIAM and Mary first met in February, 
Seventeen Hundred Ninety-six. In this matter 
dates are authentic, for Godwin kept a diary 
for forty-eight years, in which he set down his 
acts, gave the titles of books he read, and named the 
distinguished people he met. This diary is nearly as 
valuable as that of Samuel Pepys, save that unfortu- 
nately it does not record the inconsequential and 
amplify the irrelevant, for it is the seemingly trivial 
that pictures character. Godwin's diary forms a con- 
tinuous history of literary and artistic London. 
William was not favorably impressed with Mary, the 
first time they met each other. Tom Paine was present, 
and Godwin wanted to hear him talk about America, 
and instead Mary insisted upon talking about Paris, 
and Tom preferred to listen to her rather than to talk 
himself S& 53 

c< The drawing-room was not big enough for this 
precious pair/* says Godwin, and passes on to minor 
themes, not realizing that destiny was waiting for him 
around the corner. 

The next time they met, William liked Mary better, for 
he did most of the talking, and she listened. When we 
are pleased with ourselves we are pleased with others. 
" She has wondrous eyes, and they welled with tears as 
we conversed. She surely has suffered, for her soul is all 
alive/* wrote Godwin* 

The third time they met, she asked permission to quote 

101 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



from his book, " Political Justice/ 9 in her own book, 
" The Rights of Woman/' upon which she was hard at 
work. They were getting quite well acquainted, and he 
was so impressed with her personality that he ceased to 
mention her in his diary. 

Godwin's book had placed him upon the topmost turret 
of contemporary literary fame* Since the publication 
of the work he was fairly prosperous, although his 
temperament was of that gently procrastinating and 
gracious kind that buys peace with a faith in men and 
things. Mary had an eager, alert and enthusiastic way 
of approaching things that grew on the easy-going 
Godwin. Her animation was contagious. 
The bold stand Mary had taken on the subject of 
marriage; her frankness and absolute honesty; her 
perfect willingness at all times to abide by the conse- 
quences of her mistakes, all pleased Godwin beyond 
words 53 5$ 

He told Coleridge that she was the greatest woman in 
England, and Coleridge looked her over with a philos- 
opher's eye, and reported her favorably to Southey. In 
a letter to Cottle, Robert Southey says: " Of all the 
lions or literati I have seen here, Mary Imlay's counte- 
nance is the best, infinitely the best; the only fault in it 
is an expression somewhat similar to what the prints of 
Home Tooke display an expression indicating superi- 
ority; not haughtiness, not sarcasm, in Mary Imlay, 
but still it is unpleasant. Her eyes are light brown, and 
102 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



although the lid of one of them Is affected by a little 
paralysis, they are the most meaning I ever saw. As for 
Godwin himself, he has large, noble eyes, and a nose 
oh, a most abominable nose! Language is not vitupera- 
tions enough to describe the effect of its downward 
elongation/* In mentioning the matter of Godwin's nose, 
it is perhaps well to remember that Southey merely 
gave a pretty good description of his own. 
In August, Seventeen Hundred Ninety-six, Godwin 
borrowed fifty pounds from Thomas Wedgwood, son of 
Josiah Wedgwood of Etruria, which money was to tide 
Mary over a financial stress, and afford her the neces- 
sary leisure to complete " The Rights of Woman." The 
experience that Mary Wollstonecraft had in the pub- 
lishing business, now enabled her to make favorable 
arrangements for the issue of her book. The radicalism 
of America and France bad leavened England until there 
was quite a market for progressive literature. Twenty 
years later, the work would have been ignored in silence 
or censored out of existence, so zigzag is the path of 
progress 35 58 

As it was, the work sold so that in six months from the 
time it was put on sale, Mary had received upwards of 
two hundred pounds in royalties. Recognition and 
success are hygienic. Mrs. Blood, an erstwhile friend, 
saw Mary about this time, and wrote to an acquaintance: 
** I declare if she is n't getting handsome and knows it. 
She has well turned thirty and has a sprinkling of gray 

103 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



hair and a few wrinkles, but she Is doing her best to 
retrieve her youth/* 

Mary had now quit Blackf riars for better quarters near 
Hyde Park. Her health was fully restored, and she moved 
in her own old circle of writers and thinkers. 
At this time William and Mary were both well out of 
the kindergarten. He was forty and she was thirty- 
seven. Several years before, William had issued a sort 
of proclamation to the public, and a warning to women 
of the quest that bachelordom was his by choice, and 
that he was wedded to philosophy. Very young people 
are given to this habit of declaration, *' I intend never 
to wed," and it seems that older heads are just as 
absurd as young ones. It is well to refrain from mention- 
ing what we intend to do, or intend not to do, since we 
are all sailing under sealed orders and nothing is so apt 
to occur as the unexpected. 

Towards the last of the year Seventeen Hundred 
Ninety-six, William was introducing Mary as his wife, 
and congratulations were in order. To them, mutual 
love constituted marriage, and when love died, marriage 
was at an end* 

A sharp rebuke was printed about this time by Mary, 
evidently prompted by that pestiferous class of law- 
breakers who do not recognize that the opposites of 
things are alike, and that there is a difference between 
those who rise above law and those who burst through it. 
Said Mary, " Freedom without a sense of responsibility. 
104 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



is license, and license is a ship at sea without rudder 
or sail/* That the careless, mentally slipshod, restless, 
and morally unsound should look upon her as one of 
them caused Mary more pain than the criticisms of the 
unco guid. It was this persistent pointing out by the 
crowd, as well as regard for the unborn, that caused 
William and Mary to go quietly in the month of March, 
Seventeen Hundred Ninety-seven, to Saint Pancras 
Church and be married all according to the laws of 
England 38 3$ 

Godwin wrote of the mating thus: ** The partiality we 
conceived for each other was in that mode which I have 
always considered as the purest and most refined quality 
of love. It grew with equal advances in the minds of 
each. It would have been impossible for the most 
minute observer to have said who was before and who 
was after. One sex did not take the priority which long- 
established custom had awarded it, nor the other over- 
step that delicacy which is so severely imposed. I am 
not conscious that either part can assume to have been 
the principal agent in the affair. When, in the course of 
things, the disclosure came, there was nothing, in a 
manner, for either party to disclose to the other. There 
was no period of throes and resolute explanation 
attendant on the tale. It was friendship melting into 
Jove/' 53 3S 

Mary was now happier than she had ever been before 
in her life. She wrote to a friend; * c My bark has at last 

105 



WILLIAM GODWIN AND 



glided out upon the smooth waters. Married to a 
whom I respect, revere and love, who understands my 
highest flights of fancy, and with whom complete 
companionship exists, my literary success assured* and 
the bugaboo of poverty at last removed, you can 
imagine how serene is my happiness/ 1 But this time of 
joy was to be short. 

She died three months later, September Tenth, Seven- 
teen Hundred Ninety-seven, leaving behind her a baby 
girl eleven days old. 

This girl grown to womanhood, was Mary Wollstone* 
craft Shelley, wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and without 
whom the name of Shelley would be to us unknown S$ 
In writing of the mother who died in giving her birth, 
Mary Shelley says: ** Mary Wollstonecraft was one of 
those rare beings who appear once, perhaps, in a gener- 
ation, to gild humanity with a ray which no difference 
of opinion nor chance of circumstance can cloud* Her 
genius was undeniable. She had been bred in the hard 
school of adversity, and having experienced the sorrows 
entailed on the poor and oppressed, an earnest desire 
was kindled within her to diminish these sorrows 38 
Her sound understanding, her intrepidity, her sensibility 
and eager sympathy, stamped all her writings with 
force and truth, and endowed them with a tender charm 
that enchants while it enlightens* Many years have 
passed since that beating heart has been kid in the 
,cold, still grave, but no one who has ever her 
106 



MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT 



of her without enthusiastic love and veneration. Was 

there discord among friends or relatives, she stood by 
the weaker party, and by her earnest appeals and 
kindliness awoke latent affection, and healed all wounds. 
Open as day to melting charity, with a heart brimming 
with generous affection, yearning for sympathy, help- 
ful, hopeful and self-reliant, such was Mary Wollstone- 
craft." And here let us leave her. 



107 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




DANTE 



DANTE 

What should be said of him can not be said ; 
By too great splendor is Ms name attended; 
To blame Is easier those who him offended, 
Than reach the faintest glory round him shed. 
This man descended to the doomed and dead 
For our instruction; then to God ascended; 
Heaven opened wide to him its portals splendid, 
Who from his country's, closed against him, fled, 
Ungrateful land! To its own prejudice 
Nurse of his fortunes ; and this showeth well, 
That the most perfect, most of grief shall see. 
Among a thousand proofs let one suffice, 
That as his exile hath no parallel, 
Ne'er walked the earth a greater man than he. 

Longfellow 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




T was George Bernard Shaw who 
placed in the pillory of letters what 
he was pleased to call " The Dis- 
agreeable Girl." 

And he has done the deed by a 
dry-plate, quick-shutter process in 
a way that surely lays him liable for 
criminal libel in society's assize 33 
I say society's assize advisedly, because it is only in 
society that the Disagreeable Girl plays a prominent 
part, assuming the center of the stage. Society, in the 
society sense, is built on vacuity, its favors being for 
those who reveal a fine capacity to waste and consume* 
Those who would write their names high on society's 
honor-roll need not be either useful or intelligent they 
need only seem. 

And this gives the Disagreeable Girl her opportunity, 
In the paper-box factory she would have to make good; 
duett, Coon and Company ask for results; the stage 
demands a modicum at least of intellect, in addition to 
shape; but society asks for nothing but pretense, and 
the palm is awarded to palaver* 

But do not, if you please, imagine that the Disagreeable 
Girl does not wield aa influence. 

That is the very point: her influence is so far-reaching 
that George Bernard Shaw* giving cross-sections of life, 

111 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



in the form of dramas, can not write a play leave 
her out. 

She is ubiquitous, omniscient and omnipresent Is the 
Disagreeable Girl She is a disappointment to her father, 
a humiliation to her mother, a pest to brothers and 
sisters, and when she finally marries, she saps the inspi- 
ration of her husband and often converts a proud and 
ambitious man into a weak and cowardly cur. 
Only in society does the Disagreeable Girl shine; every- 
where else she Is an abject failure* The much-vaunted 
Gibson Girl is a land of deluxe edition of Shaw's 
Disagreeable Girl. The Gibson Girl lolls, loafs, pouts* 
weeps, talks back, lies in wait, dreams, eats,, drinks, 
sleeps and yawns. She rides In a coach in a red jacket, 
plays golf in a secondary sexual sweater, dawdles on a 
hotel veranda, and turn-turns on a piano* but you never 
hear of her doing a useful thing or saying a wise one* 
She reveals a beautiful capacity for avoiding all useful 
effort 33 5$ 

Gibson gilds the Disagreeable Girl. Shaw paints her as 
she Is* In the <e Doll's House " Henrik Ibsen has given 
us Nora Hebler, a Disagreeable Girl of mature who 
beyond a doubt first set George Bernard Shaw athink* 
ing. Then looking about, Shaw saw her at every turn 
in every stage of her moth-and-butterfly 38 

And the Disagreeable Girl being everywhere* Shaw* 
dealer In human character, can not write a play and 
leave her out, any more than Turner could paint a 
112 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



picture and leave man out, or Paul Veronese produce a 
canvas and omit the dog. 

The Disagreeable Girl is a female of the genus homo 
persuasion, built around a digestive apparatus with 
marked marshmallow proclivities. 
She is, moreover, pretty, pug-nosed, poetical, pert and 
pink; and at first glance to the unwary, she shows signs 
of gentleness and intelligence. Her age is anywhere 
from eighteen to twenty-eight. At twenty-eight she 
begins to evolve into something else, and her capacity 
for harm is largely curtailed, because by this time spirit 
has written itself in her form and features, and the 
grossness and animality which before were veiled are 
now becoming apparent. Habit writes itself on the face, 
and the body is an automatic recording-machine 53 
To have a beautiful old age, you must live a beautiful 
youth, for we ourselves are posterity and every man is 
his own ancestor* I am today what I am because I was 
yesterday what I was* 

The Disagreeable Girl is always pretty at least she 
has been told she is pretty, and she fully accepts the 
dictum* She has also been told she is clever, and she 
thinks she is. The actual fact is she is only " sassy.'* S3 
The fine flaring-up of youth has set sex rampant, but 
she is not ** immoral/' except in her mind. She has 
caution to the verge of cowardice, and so she is " sans 
reproche." In public she pretends to be dainty; but 
alone* or with those for whose good opinion she does not 

113 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



care, she is gross, coarse and sensual in every feature of 
her life. She eats too much, does not exercise enough, 
and considers it amusing to let others wait upon her, 
and do for her the things she should do for herself. Her 
room is a jumble of disorder, a fantasy of dirty clothes, 
a sequinarium of unmentionables that is, if the care 
of it is left to herself. The one gleam of hope for her lies 
In the fact that out of shame she will allow no visitor to 
enter the apartment if she can help it. Concrete selfish- 
ness is her chief mark. She avoids responsibility; side- 
steps every duty that calls for honest effort; is secretive, 
untruthful, indolent, evasive and dishonest. 
** What are you eating? " asks Nora Hebler's husband 
as she enters the room, not expecting to see him. 
** Nothing/* is the answer, and she hides the box of 
bonbons behind her, and presently backs out of the 
room ,SS 58 

I think Mr. Hebler had no business to ask her what she 
was eating: no man should ask any woman such a 
question and really it was no difference anyway, But 
Nora is always on the defensive, and fabricates when it 
is necessary and when it is n f t f just through habit* She 
will hide a letter written by her grandmother, as quickly 
and deftly as if it were a missive from a guilty lover. 
The habit of her life is one of suspicion; for, being 
inwardly guilty herself, she suspects everybody, 
although it is quite likely that crime with her has never 
broken through thought into deed* Nora riics her 
114 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



husband's pockets, reads his notebook, examines his 
letters, and when he goes on a trip she spends the day 
checking up his desk, for her soul delights in duplicate 
keys 53 3$ 

At times she lets drop hints of knowledge concerning 
little nothings that are none of hers, just to mystify 
folks. She does strange, annoying things, simply to see 
what others will do. 

In degree, Nora's husband fixed the vice of finesse in her 
nature, for even a " good " woman accused parries by 
the use of trickery and wins her point by the artistry of 
the bagnio. Women and men are never really far apart 
anyway, and women are what men have made them 58 
We are all just getting rid of our shackles : listen closely 
anywhere, even among honest and intellectual people, 
if such there be, and you can detect the rattle of chains. 
<J The Disagreeable Girl's mind and soul have not kept 
pace with her body. Yesterday she was a slave, sold in 
Circassian mart, and freedom to her is so new and 
strange that she does not know what to do with it 53 
The tragedy she works, according to George Bernard 
Shaw, is through the fact that very often good men, 
blinded by the glamour of sex, imagine they love the 
Disagreeable Girl, when what they love is their own 
ideal 53 53 

Nature is both a trickster and a humorist and sets the 
will of the species beyond the discernment of the indi- 
vidual. The picador has to blindfold his horse in order 

115 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



to get Mm Into the bull-ring, and likewise Dan Cupid 
exploits the myopic to a purpose. 
For aught we know, the lovely Beatrice of Dante was 
only a Disagreeable Girl clothed in a poet's fancy. 
Fortunate, indeed, was Dante that he never knew her 
well enough to get undeceived, and so walked through 
life in love with love, sensitive, saintly, sweetly sad and 
divinely happy in his melancholy. 



116 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




HERE be simple folks and many, who think 
that the tragedy of love lies in its being 
unrequited 58 $& 

The fact is, the only genuinely unhappy love 
the only tragedy is when love wears itself out 58 
Thus tragedy consists in having your illusions shattered, 
f The love-story of Dante lies In the realm of illusion 
and represents an eternal type of affection. It is the 
love of a poet a Pygmalion who loves his own crea- 
tion. It is the love that is lost, but the things we lose 
or give away are the things we keep. That for which we 
clutch we lose. 

Love like that of Dante still exists everywhere, and will 
until the end of time. One-sided loves are classic and 
know neither age nor place; and to a degree let the 
fact be stated softly and never hereafter be so much as 
whispered all good men and women have at some time 
loved one-sidedly, the beloved being as unaware of the 
love as a star is of the astronomer who discovers it. 
<I This kind of love, carried on discreetly, is on every 
hand, warming into life the divine germs of art, poetry 
and philosophy. Of it the world seldom hears. It creates 
no scandal, never is mentioned in court proceedings, nor 
is it featured by the newspapers. Indeed, the love of 
Dante would have been written in water, were it not for 
the fact that the poet took the world into his confidence, 
as all poets do for literature is only confession. 
Many who have written of Dante, like Boccaccio and 

117 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



Rossettl, have shown as rare a creative ability as some 
claim Dante revealed in creating his Beatrice. 
** Paint me with the moles on/' said Lincoln to the 
portrait-man. I 11 show Dante with moles, wrinkles 
the downward curve of the corners of his mouth, duly 
recording the fact that the corners of his mouth did 
not turn down always. 

I think, somewhere, 1 have encouraged the idea of 
women marrying the second time, and 1 have also 
given tangible reasons. Let me now say as much for 
men 38 53 

The father of Dante married and raised a family of 
seven. On the death of his wife he sought consolation 
for his sorrow in the love of a lass by the name of 
Bella her family-name is to us unknown* They were 
married, and had one child, and this child was Dante. 
<S Dante, at times, had a way of mourning over the 
fact that his father and mother ever met, but the world 
has never especially sympathized in this regret. Dante 
was born in the year Twelve Hundred Sixty-five, in the 
city of Florence, which was then the artistic and intel- 
lectual capital of the world, 

Dante seemed to think that the best in his nature was 
derived from his mother, who was a most gentlcscnsitive 
and refined spirit. Such a woman married to a man old 
enough to be her father is not likely to be absurdly 
happy. This has been said before* but it will bear 
repeating. Yet disappointment has its compensation* 
118 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



since it drives the mind on to the ideal, and thus is a 
powerful stimulant for the imagination. Deprive us of 
our heritage here, and we will conjure forth castles in 
Spain you can not place an injunction on that! 
Dante was not born in a castle, nor yet in a house with 
portcullis and battlements. 

Time was when towers and battlements on buildings 
were something more than mere architectural appen- 
denda. They had a positive use. Towers and courtyards 
were only for the nobility, and signified that the owner 
was beyond the reach of law; he could lock himself in 
and fight off the world, the flesh and the devil, if he 
wished 58 5& 

Dante's father lived in a house that had neither tower 
nor court that closed with iron gate. He was a lawyer, 
a hard-headed man who looked after estates, collected 
rents and gave advice to aristocratic nobodies for a 
consideration. He did not take snuff, for obvious reasons, 
but he was becomingly stout, carried a gold-headed 
cane or staff with a tassel on it, and struck this cane on 
the ground, coughing slightly, when about to give 
advice, as most really great lawyers do. 
When little Durante or Dante, as we call him was 
nine years old, his father took him to a lawn fete held 
at the suburban home of Folco de Portinari, one of the 
lawyer's rich clients. 

Now Signor Portinarl in social station was beyond 
Alighieri the lawyer, and of course nobody for a 

119 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



moment suspected that the dark-skinned, half -scared 
little boy, clutching his father's forefinger as they 
walked, was going to write ** The Divine Comedy/ 1 
No one paid any particular attention to the father and 
child, as they strolled beneath the trees, rested on the 
benches, and were served chocolate and cheese-straws 
by the servants. 

But on this occasion the boy caught a passing glimpse of 
Beatrice Portinari, the daughter of the host. The girl 
was just nine years old; the boy must have been told 
this by his father as he pointed out the fair one. The boy 
did not speak to her nor did she speak to him : this was 
quite out of the question, for they were on a totally 
different social plane. 

Amid the dim lights of the flaming torches he saw her- 
just for an instant! The whole surroundings were 
strangely unreal, but well calculated to impress the 
youthful imagination, and out of it all the boy carried 
with him this vision of loveliness. 
In his ** New Life " what an appropriate title for a 
love-story! Dante tells of this first sight of the 
beloved somewhat thus: * 4 Nine times already since my 
birth had the heaven of light returned to the selfsame 
point almost, as concerns its own revolution, when first 
the glorious lady of my mind was made manifest to 
my eyes# even she who was called Beatrice by many who 
knew not wherefore. She had already been in this life 
so long as that, within her time the starry heaven had 
120 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



moved toward the Eastern quarter one of the twelve 

parts of the degree; so that she appeared to me at the 
beginning of her ninth year, and I saw her almost at 
the end of my ninth year. Her dress on that day was 
of the most noble color, a subdued and goodly crimson, 
girdled and adorned in such sort as best suited her very 
tender age* At that moment, I say most truly that the 
spirit of life, which has its dwelling in the secretest 
chamber of my heart, began to tremble so violently 
that the least pulses of my body shook therewith; and 
in trembling it said these words: Here is a deity stronger 
than I who coming shall rule over me/' 



121 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




|INE was a sacred number with Dante, He 
was nine years old when he first saw his lady- 
love, and she too was nine, having not; yet 
reached the age of indiscretion. 
Nine years were to elapse before he was to speak to her. 
It is quite possible that he had caught glimpses of her 
in the interval, at church. 

Churches have their uses as trysting-places for the 
xmquenched spirit; vows are repeated there that have no 
witnesses and do not go into the register. There lovers 
meet in soul, and feed upon a glance, when heads are 
bowed in prayer. Love lends a deep religions air to the 
being, and when we are in love we love God* At other 
times we only fear Him* 

I am told that there be young men and maidens fair 
who walk on air and live in paradise until Sunday 
comes again, all on account of a loving look into eyes 
that look love again, in the dim religions light while the 
music plays soft and low. 

The lover watched his graceful maid 
As mid the virgin train she strayed. 
Nor knew her beauty's best attire 
Was woven still in the $now~whitc choir* 

And where is the gray-bearded prophet who has yet 
been wise enough to tell us where love ends religion 
begins 1 But in all these nine years Beatrice and Dante 
122 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



had never met. She had not heard his voice, nor he hers 
only glances, or a hand lifted In a way that spoke 

tomes. He had developed into a dark, dashing youth, 
given to falconry, painting and music. He had worked 
with Cimabue s the father of Italian art, and had been 
chum of Giotto, to whom all cherubim and seraphim 

trace 53 53 

At that time people with money who wanted to educate 
their sons sent them out, at what seems to us a very 
tender age, to travel and tramp the earth alone. They 
were remittance-men who shifted from university to 
university, and took lessons in depravity, being edu- 
cated by the boys. 

Dean Pluntre says that there were universities in the 
Middle Ages at Padua, Bologna, Paris and Oxford 
carried on in a very desultory way by pious monks, 
where the boys were divided by nationalities, so as to 
afford a kind of police system Italian, Spanish, 
French and English. 

They caroused, occasionally fought, studied when they 
felt like it, and made love to married women all girls 
being under lock and key for safe-keeping. 
So there you get the evolution of the modern university: 
a mendicant monastery where boys were sent, in the 
hope that they might absorb a little of the religious 
spirit and a desire to know. 

Finally, there were enough students so that they 
organized cliques, clubs and secret societies, and by a 

123 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



process of natural selection governed themselves, as 
well as visited punishment upon offenders, <I Next, on 
account of a laxity of morals and an indifference to 
books, a military system of discipline was enforced: 
lights had to be out at ten o'clock, and a student caught 
off the grounds without leave was punished. The 
teacher was a vicarious soldier. At that time each school 
had a prison attached* of which the *' career " at 
Heidelberg is the surviving type* Up to the Sixteenth 
Century, every university was a kind of castle or fort, 
and the students might at any time be compelled to do 
military duty* The college had its towers for fighting** 
men, its high walls, its fortressed fronts and Iron gates* 
These gates and walls still survive in rudimentary form* 
and the $ixteen**foot spiked steel fence at Harvard is 
the type of a condition that once was an actual neces- 
sity: the place was a law unto itself, paid no taxes, 
at any time might be raided. Colleges yet pay no taxes 
and are also quasi-mendicant institutions- 
It was not until well into the Sixteenth Century that 
requirements, examinations, system and discipline 
began to dawn upon the world. Before that* a student 
was a kind of troubadour, a cross between a monk 
a crusader, a knight-errant of love and letters, the 
moral code for him did not apply. An argument can be 
made for his chivalric tendencies* and his for 

learning had its place* for affectation is 
indifference. The roistering student is not wholly bad* 
124 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



f Poetry and love-making were to the velvet-breeched 
youth the real business of life. Like knights in armor, 
he often wore the colors of a lady who merely smiled at 
him from a latticed window. If she dropped for Kim her 
glove or handkerchief , he was in the seventh heaven. As 
his intents were not honorable nor his purpose marriage, 
it made no difference whether the lady was married or 
single, young or old* Whether the love remained upon 
a Platonic and purely poetic basis depended, of course, 
entirely upon the lady and her watchful relatives. If 
the family were poor and the lover rich, these things 
might have a bearing. We hear of alliances in those days, 
not dishonorable, where the husband was complacent 
and looked upon it as a distinction to have worthy scions 
of greatness pay court to his wife. Such men were 
referred to as *' fribblers " or " tame-cats/' The woman 
was often much older than the alleged student, and this 
seems to have been no disadvantage, for charms 
o'erripe are oft alluring to a certain type of youth S3 
Such things now would lead to headlines in the daily 
papers and snapshots of all parties concerned, followed 
by divorce-court proceedings. Then, even among 
honorable husbands, the only move was to hire an 
extra Pinkerton duenna to attend the fair one, and to 
smile in satisfaction over the possession of a wife so 
much coveted the joy of all ownership being largely 
the ability to excite envy, 
College rowdyism, cane-rushes, duels, bloody Monday, 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



the fag system and hazings are all surviving traditions 
of these so-called universities where people who had the 
price sent their sons into the pedagogic bull-pen. 
As, for centuries, youths who were destined for the 
priesthood were the only ones educated, so the monks 
were the first teachers, and the monastery was the 
college 3$ 53 

In the Twelfth Century a college was merely a monkery 
that took in boarders, and learning was acquired by 
absorption 53 $8 

No records were kept of the studentsthey simply 
paid a small fee, were given a badge and attended 
lectures when they got ready. 

Some students stayed and studied for years, thinking 
the business of life was to cram with facts. Such 
bachelor grubbers with fixed incomes, like pensioners in 
a soldiers' home, old and gray, are now to be seen 
occasionally in European universities, sticklers for 
technicalities, hot after declensions, and happy when 
they close in on a new exception to a Greek verb, 
giving it no quarter. When they come to die, they leave 
earth with but a single regret: they have never been 
able fully to compass the ablative. But the rough-and- 
tumble student was the rule, with Into stein, 
exaggerating little things into great, making woful 
ballad to his mistress 1 eyebrow. 
Such was Milord Hamlet, to whom young Dante 
a strange resemblance* 
126 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



A university like this, where the students governed 
themselves, and the duties of the faculty consisted 
largely in protecting the property, had Its advantages. 
We will come back to self-government yet, but higher 
up in the scale. It was like a big country school, in a 
country town, where lessons in self-reliance are handed 
out with the bark on. The survival of the fittest prevails, 
and out of the mass emerges now and then a strong man 
who makes his mark upon the times. 
Dante was back home in Florence from his sojourn 
abroad, a bit of a dandy no doubt, with a becoming 
dash and a touch of sophornoric boldness. He had not 
forgotten Beatrice Portinari; often had he thought of 
her, the princess of his dreams, and all the dames he 
had met had been measured with her as a standard $ 
She had been married about a year before to a rich 
banker, Simone de BardL This did not trouble Dante: 
she was too far removed from him to be an actual 
reality, and so he just waived her husband and dis- 
missed him with a shrug. Beside that, young married 
women have a charm all their own; they are wiser 
than maidens* more companionable; innocence is not 
wholly commendable at least, not to a university 
student 53 53 

And now face to face Dante and Beatrice meet. It is the 
first, the last, the only time they are to meet on earth. 
They meet. She is walking with two women friends, 
one on each side* 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



She is clothed in pure white her friends in darker 
raiment. She looks like an angel of light. Dante and 
Beatrice are not expected to meet there is no time 
for embarrassment. How did she know that young Dante 
Alighieri had returned she must have been dream- 
ing of him thinking of him! There she stands right 
before him tall, graceful, intellectual, smiling. Eyes 
look into eyes and flash recognition. The earth seems 
to swirl under Dante's feet. He uncovers his head and 
is about to sink to his knees, but she sustains him with 
a word of welcome and holds out the tips of her fingers 
for him to touch. 

She is older now than he: she is married, and a married 
woman of eighteen may surely reassure a boy who is 
only eighteen! " We have missed you from the church 
and from our streets you look well, Gentle Sir! Wel- 
come back to our Florence! Good evening! '* 
The three women move on: Dante tries to, but stands 
rooted like one of those human trees he was afterward 
to see in Purgatory. He follows her with his eyes, and 
just once she looks back and smiles as the three women 
are lost in the throng. 

But that chance, unexpected meeting, the salutation 
and the smile were to write themselves into the ** Vita 
Nuova." Dante had indeed begun a New Life. 



128 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




]HE City of Florence at this time was pros- 
perous. The churches had their pagan holi- 
days, fetes and festivals, and gaiety was the 
rule 53 53 

Out at Vallambrosa and Fiesole, where the leaves fall, 
there were Courts of Love where poets chanted their 
lays and singers sang. In all this life Dante took a 
prominent part, for while he was not of noble birth he 
was of noble bearing. 

There were rival political parties then in Florence, and 
Instead of settling their difficulties at the polls they had 
recourse to the cobblestone and club. 
When the Guelfs routed the Ghibellines from the city, 
Dante served as a soldier, or was sworn in as a deputy 
sheriff, and did some valiant fighting for the Guelfs, for 
which privilege he was to pay when the Ghibellines 
came back. 

Just what his every-day occupation was we are not 
sure, but as he was admitted a member of the Guild of 
Apothecaries we assume that he clerked in a drugstore, 
and often expressed himself thus: " Lady, I am all out 
of liverwort today, but I have something just as good! )f 
and he read her a few stanzas from the *' Vita 
Nuova/* which he had just written behind tbe screen 
at the prescription-counter* 

In the year Twelve Hundred Eighty-five, Charles of 
Anjou, brother of Saint Louis, came to Florence, and 
Dante was appointed one of the committee to look 

129 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



after Ms entertainment, <I Charles was a man of Intel- 
ligence and discrimination, a lover of letters and art. 
He and Dante became fast friends, and it seems Dante 
became a kind of honorary member of his court. 
Dante could paint a little, he played on the harp, and 
he also recited his own poems. His love of Beatrice de 
BardI was an open secret all Florence knew of it. He 
had sung her beauty, her art, her Intelligence In a way 
that made both locally famous. 

He had written a poem on the sixty chief belles of 
Florence, and In this list he had not placed Beatrice 
first, but ninth. Just why he did this, unless to empha- 
size his favorite number, we do not know. In any event 
It made more talk than If he had placed her first, 
And once at church where he had followed Beatrice, he 
made eyes openly at another lady^ to distract the 
attention of the observing public. The plan worked so 
well that Beatrice, seeing the flirtation, shortly after** 
ward met Dante and cut him dead or, to use his own 
phrase, ** withheld her salutation/* 
This caused the young man such bitter pain that he 
wrote a veiled poem, explaining the actual facts, These 
facts were that out of his great love for Beatrice, in 
order to protect her good name, he had openly made 
love to another* 

I said that the fact that Beatrice had declined to speak 
to Dante as they passed by had caused him bitter pain. 
Tills is true; but after a few days the matter took on, a 
130 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



new light. If Beatrice was indifferent to him, why should 
she be displeased when he had made eyes at another? 
She evidently was jealous, and Dante was in a paradise 
of delight, or in purgatory, or both, according to the 
way the wind sat. 

There is no reason to suppose that Dante and Beatrice 
ever met and talked things over. She was closely 
guarded, and evidently ran no risk of smirching her 
good name by associating with a troubadour student. 
He could sing songs about her this she could not help 
but beyond this there was nothing doing. 
Only once after this did they come near meeting. It was 
at a wedding-party where Dante had gone evidently 
without an invitation. He inwardly debated whether 
he should remain to the feast or not, and the ayes had 
it. He was about to be seated at the table, when a sudden 
sense of first heat and then cold came over him and he 
grasped his chair for support. The light seemed blinding. 
He closed his eyes, and then opened them ; and looking 
up, on the opposite side of the room he saw his Beatrice! 
<I A friend seeing his agitation and thinking him ill, 
led him forth into the open air and there chafed his icy 
fingers asking, " What can it be what is the matter? * 9 
^f And Dante answered, " Of a surety I have set my 
feet on a point of life beyond which he must not pass 
who would return! " 

Immediately thereafter probably the next day - 
Dante began a poem, very carefully thought out, in 

131 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



celebration of the beauty and virtue of Beatrice. He 
Lad written but one stanza when he tells us that, ** The 
Lord God of Justice called my most gracious Lady to 
Himself/' And Beatrice was dead, aged twenty-five 
years 33 S& 

Through her death Dante was indeed wedded to her 
memory. He calls her the bride of his souL 



132 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




E can not resign from life gracefully. Work has 
to be performed, even when calamity comes, 
and we stand by an open grave and ask old 
Job's question, " If a man die shall lie live 
again V f Dante felt sure that Beatrice must live 
again in all her loveliness. cc Heaven had need of her/ 9 
he cries in his grief. And then again, " She belonged 
not here, and so God took her to Himself/' At first he 
was dumb with sorrow, and then tears came to his 
relief, and a little later he eased his soul through expres^ 
sioa; he indited an open letter, a kind of poetic procla- 
mation to the citizens of Florence, in which he rehearsed 
their loss and offered them consolation in the thought 
that they now had a guardian angel in Heaven. 
The lover, like an artist or skilled workman, always 
exaggerates the importance of his passion, and links his 
love with the universal welfare of mankind. 
And stay! after all he may be right who knows! So a 
year passed away in sadness, with a few bad turnings 
into sensuality, followed by repenting in verse. It was 
the anniversary of her death, and Dante was outlining 
angels to illustrate his sonnets wherein he apotheosized 
Beatrice. And behold! as he day-dreamed of his 
Beatrice sweet consolation came in double form. First 
he saw a gentle lady who looked very much like the 
lady he lost. Lovers are always looking for resemblances 
on the street, in churches, at the theater or the 
concert, in travel looking always, ever looking for the 

133 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



face and form of the beloved. Strange resemblances are 
observed persons are followed the gait, height, attire, 
carriage of the head are noted, and hearts beat fast! 53 
So Dante saw a lady who seemed to have the same dig- 
nity of carriage, a like nobility of feature, a look as 
luminous and a glance as telling as those of Beatrice. 
Evidently he paid court to her with so much success 
that he turned from her and recriminated himself for 
having his passion aroused by a counterfeit. She looked 
the part, but her feet were clay and so were heart and 
head, and Dante turned again to his ideal, Beatrice in 
Heaven SS S$ 

And with the turning came the thought of Paradise! 
He would visit Beatrice in Heaven, and she would meet 
him at the gates and guide the way. The visit was to be 
one personally conducted. 

Every great and beautiful thing was once an unuttered 
thought; and we know the time and almost the place 
where Dante conceived the idea of ** The Divine 
Comedy." $& 53 

The new Beatrice he'had found was only a plaster-of- 
Paris cast of the original: Dante's mind recoiled from 
her to the genuine that is, to the intangible which 
proves that even commonplace women have their 
uses. At this time, while he was revolving the nebu- 
lous " Commedia " in his mind, he read Cicero's 
** Essay on Friendship, and dived deep into the 
philosophy of Epictetus and Plato. Then he printed a 
134 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



card in big letters and placed it on Ms table where lie 

could see it continually; " Philosophy is the cure for 

love!" 5353 

But it was n't- except for a few days when he wrote 

some stanzas directed to the world, declaring that his 

former poems referring to Beatrice pictured her merely 

as " Philosophy, the beautiful woman, daughter of the 

Great Emperor of the Universe/' He declared that all 

of his odes to his gentle lady were odes to Philosophy, 

to which all wise men turn for consolation, in time of 

trouble 53 53 

Nothing matters much pish! It was the struggle of the 

the poet and the good man, trying to convince himself 

that he travels fastest who travels alone. 

Dante must have held the stern and placid pose of 

Plato* the confirmed bachelor, for a full week, then 

tears came and melted his artificial granite. 

And as for Plato* the confirmed bachelor, legend has it 

that he was confirmed by a woman. 



135 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 




|N the train of Boccaccio traveled a nephew of 
Dante who had his illustrious uncle's interest- 
ing history at his tongue's end. By this 
nephew we are told that the marriage of 
Dante and Gemma Donati, in Twelve Hundred and 
Ninety-two, when Dante was twenty-seven, was a little 
matter arranged by the friends of both parties. Dante 
was dreamy, melancholy and unreliable: marriage 
would sober his poetic debauch and cause him to settle 
down! 33 35 

Ruskin, it will be remembered, was also looked after by 
the matchmakers in much the same way. 
So Dante was married. Some say that his wife was the 
gentle lady who looked like Beatrice, but this is pure 
conjecture. Four children were born to them in seven 
years. One of these was named Beatrice, which seems to 
prove that the wife of Dante was aware of his great 
passion. One of the sons became a college professor, and 
wrote a commentary on " The Commedia/' and also an 
unneeded defense of his father's character and motives 
in making love to a married lady. 

Dante was a man of influence in the affairs of the city. 
He occupied civic offices of distinction, wrote addresses 
and occasionally poems, in which he glorified his friends 
and referred scathingly to his political adversaries 33 
Gemma must have been a woman of more than average 
brain and intelligence, for when her husband was 

banished from Florence by the successful Ghibellines, 
136 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 



she kept her little family together, worked hard, edu- 
cated her children, and it is said by Boccaccio lived 
honorably and indulged in no repining. 
So far as we know, Dante sent no remittances home. He 
moved from one university to another, and accepted 
invitations from nobility to tarry at their castles. He 
dressed in melancholy black and read his poems to 
polite assemblies. Now and then he gave lectures. He 
was followed by spies, or thought he was, and now and 
then quarreled with his associates or host, and made due 
note of the fact, leaving the matter to be adjusted when 
he had time and wanted raw stock for his writings. 
f And all the time he mourned not for the loss of 
Gemma and his children, but for Beatrice. She it was 
who met him and Vergil at the gates of Paradise and 
guided them about the place, explaining its art, ethics 
and economics, and pointing out the notables. 
Dante placed in Paradise all those who had bef rieaded 
him most and praised his poems. People he did not like 
he deposited in Hell, for Dante was human. That is 
what Hell is for a place to put people who disagree 
with us. 

Milton was profoundly influenced by Dante, and in fact 
was very much like him, save that, though he had the 
felicity to be legally married three times, yet there is no 
sign of passionate love in his life. Henley says that 
without Dante we should have had no Milton, and how 
much Daute and Milton have influenced the popular 

137 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 

conception, of the Christian religion, no man can say* 
Even as conservative a man as Archdeacon Farrar, in 

one of Lis Clark lectures, said, " Our orthodox faith 
seems to trace a genesis to the genius of Dante, with 
Saint Paul and Jesus as secondary or contributing 

influences." 58 52 

After five years* wandering, Dante was notified that he 
could return to Florence on making due apology to the 
reigning powers and walking in the procession of humble 
transgressors. 

The letter he wrote in reply is still in existence. He 
scorned pardon, since he had been guilty of no offense, 
and he would return with honor or not at all 
This letter secured him a second Indictment, wherein it 
was provided that he should be burned alive if he set 
foot inside the republic* 

This sentence was not revoked until Fourteen Hundred 
Ninety-four, and as Dante had then been dead more 
than a hundred years* it* was of small avail on earth. 
The plan, however, of pardoning dead so that 

their souls could be gotten out of Purgatory legally, the 
idea being that man's law and justice were closely 
woven with the Law of God and that God punished 
offenses against the State, just as Me would 
against the Church* Hence it was ncce&sary for the 
State ad Church to quash their indictment before 
God could do the same* 
People who think that governments 
138 



DANTE AND BEATRICE 

denominations are divine institutions will see the con- 
sistency and necessity of Lorenzo de Medici and Pope 
Alexander the Fourth combining and issuing a pardon 
in Dante's favor one hundred seventy years after his 
death. He surely had been in Purgatory long enough, 
f Dante died at Ravenna in Thirteen Hundred Twenty- 
one, aged fifty-six years. It seems that he had gone 
there to see his daughter, Beatrice, who was in a nun- 
nery just outside the city walls. There his dust rests. 
<I If it be true that much of modern Christianity traces 
to Dante, it is no less true that he is the father of 
modern literature. He is the first writer of worth to 
emerge out of that night of darkness called the Middle 
Ages SS 55 

His language is tender and full of sweet, gentle imagery, 
He knew the value of symbols, and his words often cast 
a purple shadow. His style is pliable, flexible, fluid, and 
he shows rare skill in suggesting a thing that it would 
be absurd to describe. 

Dante was an artist in words, and in imagination a 
master. The history of literature can never be written 
and the name of Dante left out. And he, of all writers f 
both ancient and modern, most vividly portrays the 
truth that without human love, there would be no such 
thing as poetry. 



139 



JOHN STUART MILL 
AND HARRIET TAYLOR 




JOHN STUART 



To the beloved and deplored memory of Let who was 
the inspirer, and in part the author, of all that Is best in 
my writings the friend and wife whose exalted sense 
of truth and right was my strongest incitement, and 
whose approbation was my chief reward I dedicate 
this volume. Like all that I have written for many years, 
it belongs as much to her as to me ; but the work as it 
stands has had, in a very insufficient degree, the 
inestimable advantage of her revision ; some of the most 
important portions having been reserved for a more 
careful examination, which they are now destined never 
to receive. Were I but capable of interpreting to the 
world one-half the great thoughts and noble feelings 
which are buried in her grave, I should be the medium 
of a greater benefit to it, than is ever likely to arise 
from anything that I can write, unprompted and un- 
assisted by her all but unrivaled wisdom. 

Dedication to " On Liberty, " by John Stuart MM 



JOHN STUART MILL 
AND HARRIET TAYLOR 




this then is the love-story of John 
Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, who 
first met in the year Eighteen Hun- 
dred Thirty. He was twenty-five 
and a clerk in the East India House. 
She was twenty-three, and happily 
married to a man with a double chin. 
f They saw each other for the first 
time at Mrs. Taylor's house at a function given in 
honor of a Right Honorable Nobody from Essex. The 
Right Honorable has gone down into the dust of forget- 
fulness, his very name lost to us, like unto that of the 
man who fired the Alexandrian Library. 
All we know is that he served as a pivotal point in the 
lives of two great people, and then passed on, unwit- 
tingly, into the obscurity from whence he came. 
On this occasion the Right Honorable read an original 
paper on an Important Subject. Mrs. Taylor often gave 
receptions to eminent and learned personages, because 
her heart was a-hungered to know and to become, and 
she vainly thought that the society of learned people 
would satisfy her souL 

She was young. She was also impulsive, vivacious, 
ambitious. John Stuart Mill says she was rarely beauti- 
ful, but she was n't. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

143 



JOHN STUART MILL 



All things are comparative, and John Stuart Mill 
regarded Mrs. Taylor from the first night he saw her as 
the standard of feminine perfection. All women scaled 
down as they varied from her. As an actual fact, her 
features were rather plain, mouth and nose large, 
cheek-bones in evidence, and one eye was much more 
open than the other, and this gave people who did not 
especially like her, excuse for saying that her eyes were 
not mates. As for John Stuart Mill he used, at times, to 
refer to the wide-open orb as her *' critical eye/* 
Yet these eyes were lustrous, direct and honest, and 
tokened the rare quality of mental concentration. Her 
head was square and long, and had corners. She carried 
the crown of her head high, and her chin in. 
We need not dally with old Mr. Taylor here for us he 
Was only Mrs. Taylor's husband, a kind of useful 
marital appendendum. He was a merchant on 'Change, 
with interests in argosies that plied to Tripoli success- 
ful, busy, absorbed, with a twinge of gout, and a habit 
of taking naps after dinner with a newspaper over his 
face. Moreover, he was an Oxford man, and this was 
his chief recommendation to the eighteen-year-old girl, 
when she married him four years before. But education 
to him was now only a reminiscence. He had sloughed 
the old Greek spirit as a bird molts its feathers, with 
this difference: that a bird molts its feathers because it 
is growing a better crop, while Mr. Taylor was n't 
growing anything but a lust after " L. s. d." 
144 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



Once in two years there was an excursion to Oxford to 
attend a reunion of a Greek-letter society, and perhaps 
twice in the winter certain ancient cronies came, drank 
musty ale, and smoked long clay pipes, and sang college 
songs in cracked falsetto* 

Mrs. Taylor was ashamed of them disappointed. Was 
this the college spirit of which she had read so much? 
The old cronies leered at her as she came in to light the 
candles they leered at her; and the one seated next to 
her husband poked that fortunate gentleman in the ribs 
and congratulated him on his matrimonial estate 33 
Yet Mr, and Mrs. Taylor were happy, or reasonably so. 
He took much pride in her intellect, indulged her in all 
material things she wanted, and never thwarted her 
little ambitions to give functions to great men who came 
up from the provinces. 

She organized a Literary Coterie, to meet every Satur- 
day and study Mary Wollstonecraft's book on the 
" Rights of Woman/' 

Occasionally, she sat in the visitors* gallery at Parlia- 
ment, but always behind the screen. And constantly 
she wrote out her thoughts on the themes of the time. 
Her husband never regarded these things as proof that 
she was inwardly miserable, unsatisfied, and in spirit 
was roaming the universe seeking a panacea for soul- 
nostalgia; not he! Nor she. 

And so she gave the function to the Right Honorable 
Nobody from Essex. And among thirty or forty other 

145 



JOHN STUART MILL 



people was one John Stuart Mill, son of the eminent 
James Mill, historian and philosopher, also Head 
Examiner of the East India House. Mr. and Mrs. 
Taylor had made out the list of people between them, 
choosing those whom they thought had sufficient 
phosphorus so they would enjoy meeting a great 
theological meteoric personality from Essex. 
Mr. Taylor had seen young Mr. Mill in the East India 
House, where young Mr. Mill made out invoices with 
big seals on them. Mr. Taylor had said to Mr. Mill 
that it was a fine day, to which proposition Mr. Mill 
agreed S3 33 

The Honorable James Mill was invited, too, but 
could not come, as he was President of the Land Tenure 
League, and a meeting was on for the same night. 
Mr. Taylor introduced to the company the eminent 
visitor from Essex they had been chums together at 
Oxford and then Mr. Taylor withdrew into a quiet 
corner and enjoyed a nap as the manuscript was being 
read in sonorous orotund. 

The subject was, " The Proper Sphere of Woman in the 
Social Cosmogony/* By chance Mrs. Taylor and John 
Stuart Mill sat next to each other. 
The speaker moved with stately tread through his 
firstly to his seventhly, and then proceeded to sum up. 
The argument was that of Saint Paul amplified, " Let 
woman learn in subjection " " For the husband is the 
head of the wife, as Christ is also the head of the 
146 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



Church ** Sl God made woman for a helpmeet to 
man," etc. 

Mrs, Taylor looked at young Mr. Mill, and Mr. Mill 
looked at Mrs. Taylor. They were both thinking hard, 
and without a word spoken they agreed with each other 
on this, that the speaker had no message* 
Young Mr. Mill noted that one of Mrs. Taylor's eyes 
was much wider open than the other, and that her head 
had corners. She seemed much beyond him in years 
and experience, although actually she was two years 
younger a fact he did not then know. 
" Does not a woman need a helpmeet, too? " she wrote 
on the fly-leaf of a book she held in her lap. And young 
Mr. Mill took the book and wrote beneath in a copper- 
plate East India hand, " I do not know what a woman 
needs; but I think the speaker needs a helpmeet/' S3 
And then Mrs. Taylor wrote: "All help must be mutual. 
No man can help a woman unless she helps him the 
benefit of help lies as much in the giving as in the 
receiving/" 5S 38 

After the function Mrs, Taylor asked Mr. Mill to call. 
It is quite likely that on this occasion she asked a good 
many of the other guests to call, 
Mr, Mill called the next evening* 



147 



JOHN STUART MILL 




OHN STUART MILL was not a university 
man. He was an intellectual cosset, and 
educated in a way that made the English 
pedagogues stand aghast. So, probably thou- 
sands of parents said, " Go to! we will educate our own 
children," and went at their boys in the same way that 
James Mill treated his son, but the world has produced 
only one John Stuart Mill. 

Axtell, the trotter, in his day held both the two-year-old 
and the three-year-old record. He was driven in harness 
from the time he was weaned, and was given work that 
would have cocked most ankles and sent old horses over 
on their knees. But Axtell stood the test and grew 
strong 33 53 

Certain horsemen, seeing the success of Axtell, tried his 
driver's plan, and one millionaire I know ruined a 
thousand colts and never produced a single racehorse by 
following the plan upon which Axtell thrived. 
The father of John Stuart Mill would now be considered 
one of England's great thinkers, had he not been so 
unfortunate as to be thrown completely into the 
shadow by his son. As it is, James Mill lives in history 
as the man who insisted that his baby three years old 
should be taught the Greek alphabet. When five years 
old, this baby spoke with an Attic accent, and corrected 
his elders who dropped the aspirate. With unconscious 
irony John Stuart Mill wrote in his "Autobiography," 
*' I learned no Latin until my eighth year, at which 
148 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



time, however, I was familiar with *JEsop*s Fables/ 
most of the 'Anabasis/ the ' Memorabilia ' of 
Xenophon, and the * Lives of the Philosophers * by- 
Diogenes Laertius, part of Lucian, and the 'Ad Demon- 
icum ' and *Ad NIcoclem * of Isocrates." Besides these 
he had also read all of Plato, Plutarch, Gibbon, Hume 
and Rollin, and was formulating in his mind a philosophy 
of history. 

Whether these things " educated " the boy or not will 
always remain an unsettled question for debating- 
societies 53 53 

But that he learned and grew through constant associa- 
tion with his father there is no doubt. Wherever the 
father went, the boy trotted along, a pad in one Land 
and a pencil in the other, always making notes, always 
asking questions, and always answering propositions S3 
The long out-of-door walks doubtless saved him from 
death. He never had a childhood, and if he ever had a 
mother, the books are silent concerning her. He must 
have been an incubator baby, or else been found under 
a cabbage-leaf. James Mill treated his wife as if her 
office and opinions were too insignificant to consider 
seriously she was only an unimportant incident in his 
life, James Mill was the typical beef-eating Englishman 
described by Taine. 

According to Doctor Bain's most interesting little book 
on John Stuart Mill, the youth at nine was appointed to 
supervise the education of the rest of the family, *' a 

149 



JOHN STUART MILL 



position more pleasing to his vanity than helpful to his 
manners/' That he was a beautiful prig at this time 
goes without saying. 

The scaffolding of learning he mistook for the edifice, a 
fallacy borrowed from his father. At the age of fourteen 
he knew as much as his father, and acknowledged it. 
He was then sent to France to study the science of 
government under Sir Samuel Bentham. 
His father's intent was that he should study law, and in 
his own mind was the strong conviction that he was set 
apart, and that his life was sacred to the service of 
humanity. A year at the study of law, and a more or less 
intimate association with barristers, relieved him of the 
hallucination that a lawyer's life is consecrated to 
justice and the rights of man quips, quirks and quillets 
Vere not to his taste. 

James Mill held the office of Chief Examiner in the 
^Last India House, at a salary equal to seven thousand 
live hundred dollars a year. The gifted son was now 
nineteen, and at work as a junior clerk under his father 
at twenty pounds a year. Before the year was up he was 
promoted, and when he was twenty-one his salary was 
one hundred pounds a year. 

There are people who will say, " Of course his father 
pushed him along." But the fact that after his father's 
death he was promoted by the Directors to Head of the 
Office disposes of all suspicion of favoritism. The 
management of the East India Company was really a 
150 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



matter of statesmanship, and the direct, methodical and 

practical mind of Mill fitted him for the place. 
Thomas Cariyle, writing to his wife in Scotland in the 
year Eighteen Hundred Thirty-one, said: " This young 
Mill, I fancy and hope, is a being one can love. A slender, 
rather tallish and elegant youth, with Roman-nosed 
face, earnestly smiling blue eyes, modest, remarkably 
gifted, great precision of utterance, calm a distinctly 
able and amiable youth. " 

So now behold him at twenty-five, a student and 
scholarly recluse, delving all day in accounts and dis- 
patches, grubbing in books at night, and walking an 
hour before sunrise in the park every morning. It was 
about then that he accepted the invitation of Mrs. 
Taylor to call. 

I do not find that James Mill ever disputed the proposi- 
tion that women have souls : he evidently considered the 
matter quite beyond argument they had n't. His son, 
at this time, was of a like opinion. 
John Stuart Mill had not gone into society, and women 
to him were simply undeveloped men, to be treated 
kindly and indulgently. As mental companions, the 
idea was unthinkable. And love was entirely out of his 
orbit all of his energies had been worked up into great 
thoughts. Doctor Bain says that at twenty-five John 
Stuart Mill was as ignorant of sex as a girl of ten 3S 
He called on Mrs. Taylor because she had pleased him 
when she said, " The person who helps another gets 

151 



JOHN STUART MILL 



as muclTout of the transaction as the one who is helped," 
This was a thought worth while. Perhaps Mrs, Taylor 
had borrowed the idea. But anyway it was something 
to repeat it. He revolved it over in his mind all day, off 
and on. ** To help another is to help yourself. A help- 
meet must grow by the exercise of being useful There- 
fore, a woman grows as her husband growsshe can 
not stand if she puts forth intelligent effort. All help is 
mutual/' IT* One eye was wider than the otherher 
head had corners- she carried her chin in! ^ 
John Stuart Mill wished the day would not drag so; 
after supper he would go and call on Mm* Taylor, and 
ask her to explain what she meant by all help being 
mutual it was a trifle paradoxical ! 
The Taylors were just; finishing tea when young Mr. Mill 
called. They were surprised and delighted to sec him* 
He was a bit abashed, and could not quite remember 
what it was he wanted to ask Mrs. Taylor* but he 
finally got around to something else? just as good, Mrs, 
Taylor had written an article on the ** Subjugation of 
Women"- would Mr. Mill takoilhome wit hhtmand read 
it, or would he like to hear her read a little of it ow> 53 
Mr, Mill's fine face revealed his delight at the prospect 
of being read to* So Mrs- Taylor road a little aloud to 
Mr, Mill, while Mr, Taylor took a much**ncedlcd in 
the corner. 

In a few Mr. Mill called to return Mrs* Taylor*s 

manuscript and leave a little he 

152 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



written on a similar theme. Mr. Taylor was greatly 
pleased at this fine friendship that had sprung up between 
his gifted wife and young Mr, Mill Mrs. Taylor was 
so much improved in health, so much more buoyant! 
Thursday night soon became sacred at the Taylors' to 
Mr. Mill, and Sunday he always took dinner with them. 
f Goldwin Smith, a trifle grumpy, with a fine forgetful- 
ness as to the saltness of time, says that young Mr. Mill 
had been kept such a recluse that when he met Mrs, 
Taylor he considered that he was the first man to 
discover the potency of sex, and that he thought his 
experience was unique in the history of mankind. 
Perhaps love does make a fool of a man I really can 
not say. If so, then John Stuart Mill never recovered his 
sanity. Suppose we let John speak for himself I quote 
from his '* Autobiography : 

It was at the period of my mental progress which I 
have now reached that I formed the friendship which 
has been the honor and chief blessing of my existence, 
as well as the source of a great part of all that I have 
attempted to do, or hope to effect hereafter, for human 
improvement. 

My first introduction to the lady who, after a friend- 
ship of twenty years, consented to become my wife, was 
in Eighteen Hundred Thirty, when I was in my twenty- 
fifth and she in her twenty-third year. 
*********** 

I very soon felt her to be the most admirable person I 
had ever known. 



JOHN STUART MILL 



It is not to be supposed that she was, or that any one* 
at the age at which I first saw her, could be, all that she 
became afterwards. Least of all could this be true of 
her, with whom self-improvement, progress in the 
highest and in all senses, was a law of her nature; a 
necessity equally from the ardor with which she sought 
it, and from the spontaneous tendency of faculties which 
could not receive an impression or an experience with- 
out making it the source or occasion of an accession of 
wisdom 53 58 

st********** 

In her, complete emancipation from every kind of 
superstition (including that which attributes a pre- 
tended perfection to the order of Nature and the 
universe) and an earnest protest against many things 
which are still part of the established constitution of 
society, resulted not from the intellect, but from 
strength, a noble and elevated feeling, and co-existent 
with a highly reverential nature. In general spiritual 
characteristics, as well as in temperament and organiza- 
tion, I have often compared her, as she was at that 
time, to Shelley: but in thought and intellect, Shelley, 
so far as his powers were developed in his short life, 
was but a child compared with what she ultimately 
became 53 53 

Alike in the highest regions of speculation and in the 
smaller practical concerns of daily life, her mind was 
the same perfect instrument, piercing to the heart and 
marrow of the matter, always seizing the essential idea 
or principle. <I The same exactness and rapidity of 
operation, pervading as it did her sensitive as well as 
her mental qualities, would, with her gifts of feeling 
154 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



and imagination, Lave fitted her for a consummate 
artist, as her fiery and tender soul and her vigorous 
eloquence would certainly have made her a great 
orator. And her profound knowledge of human nature, 
and discernment and sagacity in practical life, would, 
in the times when such a career was open to women, 
have made her eminent among the rulers of mankind 5$ 
Her intellectual gifts did but minister to a moral 
character at once the noblest and the best balanced 
which I have ever met with in my life. Her unselfishness 
was not that of a taught system of duties, but of a 
heart which thoroughly identified itself with the feelings 
of others, and often went to excess in consideration for 
them by imaginatively investing their feelings with the 
intensity of her own. 

The passion of justice might have been thought to be 
her strongest feeling, but for her boundless generosity, 
and a lovingness ever ready to pour itself forth upon 
any or all human beings who were capable of giving the 
smallest feelings in return. The rest of her moral 
characteristics were such as naturally accompany these 
qualities of mind and heart: the most genuine modesty 
combined with the loftiest pride; a simplicity and 
sincerity which were absolute towards all who were 
fit to receive them; the utmost scorn for whatever was 
mean and cowardly, and a burning indignation at every- 
thing brutal or tyrannical, faithless or dishonorable in 
conduct and character, while making the broadest 
distinction between " mala in se " and mere ** mala 
prohibita" between acts giving evidence of intrinsic 
badness in feeling and character, and those which an 
only violations of conventions either good or bad 

155 



JOHN STUART MILL 



violations which whether in themselves right or wrong 
are capable of being committed by persons in every 
other respect lovable and admirable. 
To be admitted into any degree of mental intercourse 
with a being of these qualities could not but have a 
most beneficial influence on my development; though 
the effect was only gradual, and several years elapsed 
before her mental progress and mine went forward in 
the complete companionship they at last attained. The 
benefit I received was far greater than any which I 
could hope to give; though to her, who had at first 
reached her opinions by the moral intuition of a char- 
acter of strong feeling, there was doubtless help as well 
as encouragement to be derived from one who had 
arrived at many of the same results by study and reason- 
ing: and in the rapidity of her intellectual growth, her 
mental activity, which converted everything into 
knowledge, doubtless drew from me, as it did from 
other sources, many of its materials. What I owe, even 
intellectually, to her is, in its detail, almost infinite; of 
its general character a few words will give some, 
though a very imperfect, idea. 

With those who, like the best and wisest of mankind, 
are dissatisfied with human life as it is, and whose 
feelings are wholly identified with its radical amend- 
ment, there are two main regions of thought. One is the 
region of ultimate aims the constituent elements of 
the highest realizable ideal of human life. 
The other is that of the immediately useful and 
practically attainable. In both these departments, I 
have acquired more from her teaching than from all 
other sources taken together. And, to say truth, it is 
156 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



IB these two extremes principally, that real certainty 
lies. My own strength lay wholly in the uncertain and 
slippery mtermediate region, that of theory, or moral 
and political science; respecting the conclusions of 
which, in any of the forms in which I have received or 
originated them, whether as political economy, analytic 
psychology, logic, philosophy or history, or anything 
else, it is not the least of my intellectual obligations to 
her that I have derived from her a wise skepticism, 
which, while it has not hindered me from following out 
the honest exercise of my thinking faculties to whatever 
conclusions might result from it, has put me on my 
guard against holding or announcing these conclusions 
with a degree of confidence which the nature of such 
speculations does not warrant, and has kept my mind 
not only open to admit, but prompt to welcome and 
eager to seek, even on the questions on which I have 
most meditated, any prospect of clearer perceptions 
and better evidence, I have often received praise, which 
in my own right I only partially deserve, for the greater 
practicality that is supposed to be found in my writings, 
compared with those of most thinkers who have been 
equally addicted to large generalizations. The writings 
in which this quality has been observed, were not the 
work of one mind, but of the fusion of two: one as, 
eminently practical in its judgments and perceptions 
of things present, as it was high and bold in its anticipa- 
tions for futurity. 



157 



JOHN STUART MILL 




HE social functions at the Taylor home now 
became less frequent, and finally ceased. 
Women looked upon the friendship of John 
Stuart Mill and Mrs. Taylor with some 
resentment and a slight tinge of jealousy. Men lifted an 
eyebrow and called it " equivocal " to use the phrase 
of Clement Shorter. 

** The plan of having* a husband and also a lover is not 
entirely without precedent," said Disraeli in mock 
apology, and took snuff solemnly. Meantime manu- 
scripts were traveling back and forth between the East 
India House and the Taylors'. 

John Stuart Mill was contributing essays to the maga- 
zines that made the thinkers think. He took a position 
opposed to his father, and maintained the vast impor- 
tance of the sentiments and feelings in making up the 
sum of human lives. When Mill was mentioned, people 
asked which one. 

The Carlyles, who at first were very proud of the 
acquaintanceship of Mill, dropped him. Then he 
dropped them. Years after, the genial Tammas, writing 
to his brother John, confirmed his opinion of Mill, 
** after Mill took up with that Taylor woman." Says 
Tammas: " You have lost nothing by missing the 
'Autobiography * of Mill. I never read a more uninter- 
esting book, nor should I say a sillier/* 
James Mill protested vehemently against his son visiting 
at the Taylors', and even threatened the young man 
158 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



with the loss of his position, but John Stuart made no 
answer. The days John did not see Harriet he wrote her 
a letter and she wrote him one. 

To protect himself in his position, John now ceased to 
do any literary work or to write any personal letters at 
the office. While there he attended to business and 
nothing else. In the early morning he wrote or walked. 
Evenings he devoted to Mrs. Taylor; either writing to 
her or for her, or else seeing her. On Saturday after- 
noons they would usually go botanizing, for botany is 
purely a lovers* invention. 

Old acquaintances who wanted to see Mill had to go to 
the East India House, and there they got just five 
minutes of his dignified presence. Doctor Bain com- 
plains, " I could no longer get him to walk with me in 
the park he had reduced life to a system, and the old 
friends were shelved and pigeonholed." 
When Mill was thirty his salary was raised to five 
hundred pounds a year. His father died the same year, 
and his brothers and sisters discarded him. His literary 
fame had grown, and he was editor of the London 
* Review/* The pedantry of youth had disappeared 
practical business had sobered him, and love had 
relieved him of his idolatry for books. Heart now meant 
more to him than art. His plea was for liberty, national 
and individual. The modesty, gentleness and dignity 
of the man made his presence felt wherever he went. A 
contemporary said; M His features were refined anc 

159 



JOHN STUART MILL 



regular the nose straight and finely shaped, his lips 
thin and compressed the face and body seemed to 
represent the inflexibility of the inner man. His whole 
aspect was one of high and noble achievement 
invincible purpose, iron will, unflinching self -oblivion a 
world's umpire! " 

Mill felt that life was such a precious heritage that we 
should be jealous of every moment, so he shut himself 
in from every disturbing feature. All that he wrote he 
submitted to Mrs. Taylor she corrected, amended, 
revised. She read for him, and spent long hours at the 
British Museum in research work, while he did the 
business of the East India Company. 
When his " Logic " was published, in Eighteen Hundred 
Forty, he had known Mrs. Taylor nine years. That she 
had a considerable hand in this comprehensive work 
there is no doubt. The book placed Mill upon the very 
pinnacle of fame. John Morley declared him " England's 
foremost thinker/' a title to which Gladstone added the 
weight of his endorsement, a thing we would hardly 
expect from an ardent churchman, since Mill was 
always an avowed freethinker, and once declared in 
Gladstone's presence, " I am one of the few men in 
England who have not abandoned their religious beliefs, 
because I never had any/' 

Justin McCarthy says in his reminiscences: "A wiser 
and more virtuous man than Mill I never knew nor 
expect to know; and yet I have had the good fortune 
160 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



to know many wise and virtuous men, I never knew any 
man of really great intellect, who carried less of the 
ways of ordinary greatness about him. There was an 
added charm to the very shyness of his manner when 
one remembers how fearless he was, if the occasion 
called for fortitude or courage/* 

After the publication of the " Logic," Mill was too big 
a man for the public to lose sight of. 
He went his simple way, but to escape being pointed 
out, he kept from all crowds, and public functions were 
to him tabu. 

When Mrs. Taylor gave birth to a baby girl, an obscure 
London newspaper printed, "A Malthusian Warning to 
the East India Company/' which no doubt reflected a 
certain phase of public interest, but Mill continued his 
serene way undisturbed. 

To this baby girl, Helen Taylor, Mill was always most 
devotedly attached- As she grew into childhood he 
taught her botany, and people who wanted a glimpse of 
Mill were advised to ** look for him with a flaxen- 
haired little sprite of a girl any Saturday afternoon, on 
Hampton Heath/* 

Mr. Taylor died in July, Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine, 
and in April, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-one, Mrs, Tayloi 
and Mill were quietly married. The announcement oi 
the marriage sent a spasm over literary England, anc 
set the garrulous tongues a-wagging. 
George Mill, a brother of John Stuart, with unconsciou 

161 



JOHN STUART MILL 



Immor placed himself on record thus, ** Mrs. Taylor 
was never to anybody else what she was to John.' 9 
Bishop Spalding once wrote out this strange, solemn, 
emasculate proposition* " Mill's 'Autobiography ' con- 
tains proof that a soul, with an infinite craving for God, 
not finding Him, will worship anything a woman, a 
memory! " 58 S3 

This almost makes one think that the good Bishop was 
paraphrasing and reversing Voltaire's remark, " When 
a woman no longer finds herself acceptable to man she 
turns to God/' 

What the world thought of MilFs wife is not vital 
what he thought of her, certainly was. I quote from the 
"Autobiography," which Edward Everett Hale calls 
** two lives in one written by one of them " 5 

Between the time of which I have now spoken, and the 
present, took place the most important events of my life. 
flf The first of these was my marriage to the lady whose 
incomparable worth had made her friendship the 
greatest source to me both of happiness and of improve- 
ment. For seven and a half years that blessing was 
mine; for seven and a half only! I can say nothing which 
could describe, even in the faintest manner, what that 
loss was, and is. But because I know that she would 
have wished it, I endeavor to make the best of what life 
I have left, and to work on for her purposes with such 
diminished strength as can be derived from the thoughts 
of her, and communion with her memory. 
When two persons have thoughts and speculations 
162 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



completely in common; when all subjects of Intellectual 
and moral interests are discussed between them in 
daily life, and probed to much greater depths than are 
usually or conveniently sounded in writings intended 
for general readers; when they set out from the same 
principles, and arrive at their conclusions by processes 
pursued jointly, it is of little consequence, in respect to 
the question of originality, which of them holds the 
pen; the one who contributes the least to the composi- 
tion may contribute most of the thought; the writings 
which result are the joint product of both, and it must 
often be impossible to disentangle their respective 
parts, and affirm that this belongs to one and that to 
the other* In this wide sense, not only during the years 
of our married life, but during many of the years of 
confidential friendship which preceded, all my published 
writings were as much her work as mine, Ker share in 
them constantly increasing as years advanced. But in 
certain cases, what belongs to her can be distinguished 
and specially identified. Over and above the genera] 
influence which her mind had over mine, the rnosl 
valuable ideas and features in these joint production? 
(those which have been most fruitful of irnportani 
results, and which have contributed most to the succes 
and reputation of the works themselves) originate! 
with her, were emanations from her mind, my part c 
them being no greater than in any of the thought 
which I found in previous writings, and made my ow 
only by incorporating them with my own system c 
Thought. During the greater part of my literary life 
have performed the office in relation to her, which froj 
a rather early period I had considered as the most usef 

163 



JOHN STUART MILL 

part that I was qualified to take in the domain of 
thought: that of an interpreter of original thinkers, and 
mediator between them and the public. 



Thus prepared, it will easily be believed that when I 
came into close intellectual communion with a person 
of the most eminent faculties, whose genius, as it grew 
and unfolded itself in thought, continually struck out 
truths far in advance of me, but in which I could not, 
as I had done in those others, detect any mixture of 
error, the greatest part of my mental growth consisted 
in the assimilation of those truths, and the most valu- 
able part of my intellectual work was in building the 
bridges and clearing the paths which connected them 
with my general system of thought. 
The steps in my mental growth for which I was indebted 
to her were far from being those which a person wholly 
uninformed on the subject would probably suspect. It 
might be supposed, for instance, that my strong con- 
victions on the complete equality in all legal, political 
social and domestic relations, which ought to exist 
between men and women, may have been adopted or 
learned from her. This was so far from being the fact 
that those convictions were among the earliest results 
of the application of my mind to political subjects, and 
the strength with which I held them was, as I believe, 
more than anything else, the originating cause of the 
interest she felt in me. What is true is, that, until I 
knew her, the opinion was in my mind, little more than 
an abstract principle* I saw no more reason why women 
should be held in legal subjection to other people, than 
164 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



why men should. I was certain that their interests 
required fully as much protection as those of men, and 
were quite as little likely to obtain it without an equal 
voice in making the laws by which they were to be 
bound. But that perception of the vast practical bear- 
ings of women's disabilities which found expression in 
the book on the " Subjection of Women " was acquired 
mainly through her teaching. But for her rare knowl- 
edge of human nature and comprehension of moral and 
social influences, though I doubtless should have held 
my present opinions, I should surely have had a very 
insufficient perception of the mode in which the con- 
sequences of the inferior position of women intertwine 
themselves with all the evils of existing society and with 
all the difficulties of human improvement. I am indeed 
painfully conscious of how much of her best thoughts 
on the subject I have failed to reproduce, and how 
greatly that little treatise falls short of what would 
have been if she had put on paper her entire mind on 
the question, or had lived to devise and improve, as she 
certainly would have done, my imperfect statement of 
the case. 

The first of my books in which her share was con- 
spicuous was the " Principles of Political Economy/* 
The " System of Logic " owed little to her except in the 
minute matters of composition, in which respect my 
writings both great and small have largely benefited 
by her accurate and clear-sighted criticism. The chapter 
of the " Political Economy " which has had a greater 
influence on opinion than all the rest, that on " The 
Probable Future of the Laboring Classes," is entirely 
due to her: in the first draft of the book, that chapter 

165 



JOHN STUART MILL 



did not exist* <S She pointed out the need of a chapter, 
and the extreme imperfection of the book without it:i 
she was the cause of my writing it; and the more 
general part of the chapter the statement and dis- 
cussion of the two opposite theories respecting the 
proper condition of the laboring classes was wholly 
an exposition of her thoughts, often in words taken 
from her own lips. 

The purely scientific part of the " Political Economy ** 
I did not learn from her; but it was chiefly her influence 
that gave to the book that general tone by which it is 
distinguished from all previous expositions of " Political 
Economy " that had any pretension to being scientific, 
and which has made it so useful to conciliating minds 
which those previous expositions had repelled. 



What was abstract and purely scientific was generally 
mine; the properly human element came from her: in 
all that concerned the application of philosophy to the 
exigencies of human society and progress, I was her 
pupil, alike in boldness of speculation and cautiousness 
of practical judgment. For, on the one hand, I was 
much more courageous and farsighted than without 
her I should have been, in anticipation of an order of 
things to come, in which many of the limited general- 
izations now so often confounded with universal 
principles will cease to be applicable. Those parts of 
my writings, and especially of the " Political Economy," 
which contemplate possibilities in the future such as, 
when affirmed by socialists, have in general been 
fiercely denied by political economists, would, but for 
166 



AND: HARRIET TAYLOR 



her, either have been absent, or the suggestions would 
have been made much more timidly and in a more 
qualified form. But while she thus rendered me bolder 
in speculation on human affairs, her practical turn of 
mind, and her almost unerring estimate of practical 
obstacles, repressed in me all tendencies that wer@ 
really visionary. 

Her mind invested all ideas In a concrete shape, and 
formed itself a conception of how they would actually 
work: and her knowledge of the existing feelings and 
conduct of mankind was so seldom at fault, that the 
weak point in any unworkable suggestion seldom 
escaped her. 



During the two years which immediately preceded the 
cessation of my official life, my wife and I were working 
together at the " Liberty." I had first planned and 
written it as a short essay in Eighteen Hundred Fifty- 
four. None of my writings have been either so carefully 
composed, or so sedulously corrected as this. After it 
had been written as usual, twice over, we kept it by us, 
bringing it out from time to time, and going through it 
*' de novo," reading, weighing and criticizing every 
sentence. Its final revision was to have been a work of 
the winter of Eighteen Hundred Fifty-eight and Fifty- 
nine, the first after my retirement, which we had 
arranged to pass in the South of Europe. That hope 
and every other were frustrated by the most unexpected 
and bitter calamity of her death, at Avignon, on our 
way to Montpellier, from a sudden attack of pulmonary 

congestion 3& S& 

167 



JOHN STUART MILL 



Since then I have sought for such alleviation as my 
state admitted of, by the mode of life which most 
enabled me to feel her still near me. I bought a cottage 
as close as possible to the place where she is buried, and 
there her daughter (my fellow-sufferer and now my 
chief comfort) and I live constantly during a great 
portion of the year. My objects in life are solely those 
which were hers; my pursuits and occupations those in 
which she shared or sympathized which are indissol- 
ubly associated with her. Her memory is to me a religion, 
and her approbation the standard by which, summing 
up as it does all worthiness, I endeavor to regulate my 
life S3 S3 

After my irreparable loss, one of my earliest cares was 
to print and publish the treatise, so much of which was 
the work of her whom I had lost, and consecrate it to 
her memory. I have made no alterations or additions 
to it, nor shall I ever. Though it wants the last touch of 
her hand, no substitute for that touch shall ever be 
attempted by mine. 

The " Liberty " was more directly and literally our 
joint production than anything else which bears my 
name, for there was not a sentence of it which was not 
several times gone through by us together, turned over 
in many ways, and carefully weeded of any faults, either 
in thought or expression, that we detected in it. It is in 
consequence of this that, although it never underwent 
her final revision, it far surpasses, as a mere specimen 
of composition, anything which has proceeded from me 
either before or since. With regard to the thoughts, it 
is difficult to identify any particular part or element as 
being more hers than all the rest. The whole mood of 
168 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



thinking, of which the book was the expression, was 
emphatically hers. 

But I also was so thoroughly imbued with it that the 
same thoughts naturally occurred to us both. That I 
was thus penetrated with it, however, I owe in a great 
degree to her. There was a moment in my mental 
progress when I might easily have fallen into a tendency 
towards over-government, both social and political; as 
there was also a moment when, by reaction from a 
contrary excess, I might have become a less thorough 
radical and democrat than I am. In both these points 
as in many others, she benefited me as much by keeping 
me right where I was right, as by leading me to new 
truths, and ridding me of errors. 



169 



JOHN STUART MILL 




]RS. MILL died suddenly, at Avignon, France* 
while on a journey with Mr. MilL There she 
was buried. 

The stricken husband and daughter rented a 
cottage in the village, to be near the grave of the 
beloved dead. They intended to remain only a few weeks, 
but after a year they concluded they could " never be 
content to go away and leave the spot consecrated by 
her death/' unlike Robert Browning, who left Florence 
forever on the death of his wife, not having the inclina- 
tion or the fortitude even to visit her grave. 
Mill finally bought the Avignon cottage, refitted it, 
brought over from England all his books and intimate 
belongings, and Avignon was his home for fifteen years 
the rest of his life. 

Mill always referred to Helen Taylor as " my wife's 
daughter," and the daughter called him " Pater/* The 
love between these two was most tender and beautiful. 
The man could surely never have survived the shock of 
his wife's death had it not been for Helen. She it was 
who fitted up the cottage, and went to England bring- 
ing over his books, manuscripts and papers, luring him 
on to live by many little devices of her ready wit. She 
built a portico all around the cottage, and in Winter this 
was enclosed in glass. Helen called it, " Father's semi- 
circumgyratory," and if he failed to pace this portico 
forty times backward and forward each forenoon, she 
would take him gently by the arm and firmly insist 
170 



AND HARRIET TAYLOR 



that lie should fill the prescription. They resumed their 
studies of botany, and Helen organized classes which 
went with them on their little excursions. 
In Eighteen Hundred Sixty-five, Mill was induced to 
stand for Parliament for Westminster. The move was 
made by London friends in the hope of winning him 
back to England. He agreed to the proposition on con- 
dition that he should not be called upon to canvass for 
votes or take any part in the campaign. 
He was elected by a safe majority, and proved a power 
for good in the House of Commons. The Speaker once 
remarked, " The presence of Mr. Mill in this body I 
perceive has elevated the tone of debate." This sounds 
like the remark of Wendell Phillips when Dogmatism 
was hot on the heels of the Sage of Concord: " If 
Emerson goes to Hell, his presence there will surely 
change the climate." 

Yet when Mill ran for re-election he was defeated, it 
having leaked out that he was an " infidel," since he 
upheld Charles Bradlaugh in his position that the 
affirmation of a man who does not believe in the Bible 
should be accepted as freely as the oath of one who does. 
In passing it is worth while to note that the courts of 
Christendom have now accepted the view of Bradlaugh 
and of Mill on this point. 

The best resume of Mill's philosophy is to be found in 
Taine's " English Literature," a fact to which Mill him* 

self attested* 

171 



JOHN STUART MILL 

The dedication of " On Liberty/' printed as a preface 
to this " Little Journey/' rivals in worth the wonderful 
little classic of Ernest Renan to his sister, Henriette S& 
Mill died at Avignon in Eighteen Hundred Seventy- 
three, his last days soothed by the tender ministrations 
of the daughter Helen. His body, according to his wish, 
was buried in his wife's grave, and so the dust of the 
lovers lies mingled. 



172 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




CHARLES STEWART PARNELL, 



For my own part I am confident as to the future of 
Ireland. Though the horizon may now seem cloudy, I 
believe her people will survive the present oppression, 
as they have survived many worse ones. Although our 
progress may be slow, it will be sure. The time will come 
when the people of England will admit once again that 
they have been mistaken and have been deceived: that 
they have been led astray as to the right way of govern- 
ing a noble, a brave and an impulsive people. 

Charles Stewart Parnell 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




WO hundred fifty men own one- third 
of the acreage of Ireland. 
Two-thirds of Ireland is owned by 
two thousand men. In every other 
civilized country will be found a 
large class of people known as 
peasant proprietors, people who 
own small farms or a few acres 
which they call home. In Ireland we find seven hundred 
thousand tenant-farmers, who with their families repre- 
sent a population of more than three million people* 
These people depend upon the land for their subsistence, 
but they are tenants-at-will. Four-fifths of the land- 
owners of Ireland live in England, 
Lord Dufferin, late Governor-General of Canada, once 
said: " What is the spectacle presented to us by Ireland? 
It is that of millions of people, whose only occupation 
and dependence is agriculture, sinking their past and 
present and future on yearly tenancies. What is a 
yearly tenancy? Why, it means that the owner of the 
land, at the end of any year, can turn the people born 
on the land, off from the land, tear down their houses 
and leave them starving at the mercy of the storm. It 
means terms no Christian man would offer, and none 
but a madman would accept/' 

The rents are fixed in cash, being proportioned according 

175 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



to the assessable value of the property. So if a tenant 
improves the estate, his rent is increased, and thus 
actuallya penalty is placed on permanent improvements. 
<I The tenant has no voice in the matter of rent: he must 
accept. And usually the rents have been fixed at a 
figure that covers the entire produce of the land. Then 
the landlord's agent collected all he could, and indul- 
gently allowed the rest to hang over the tenant's head as 
a guarantee of good behavior. 

Mr. Gladstone said in Parliament, July the Tenth, 
Eighteen Hundred Seventy-nine: " Forty-nine farmers 
out of fifty in Ireland are in arrears for rent, so it is 
legally possible to evict them at any time the landlord 
may so choose. And in the condition that now exists, an 
eviction is equal to a sentence of death." 
At the time when Gladstone made his speech just 
quoted, a bill was up in the House of Commons called 
" The Relief of Distress Bill." Simple people might at 
once assume that this relief bill was for the relief of the 
starving peasantry, but this is a very hasty conclusion, 
ill-considered and quite absurd. The " Relief Bill " was 
for the relief of the English landlords who owned land 
in Ireland. So the landlords would not be actually 
compelled to levy on the last potato and waylay the 
remittances sent from America, the English Govern- 
ment proposed to loan money to the distressed land- 
lords at three per cent, and this bill was passed without 
argument. And it was said that Lord Lansdowne, one 
176 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



of the poor landlords, turned a tidy penny by availing 
himself of the three-per-cent loan and letting the money 
out, straightway, at six per cent to such tenants as had 
a few pigs to offer as collateral. 

The State of Iowa is nearly double the size of Ireland, 
and has, it is estimated, eleven times the productive 
capacity. A tithe of ten per cent on Iowa's corn crop 
would prevent, at any time, a famine in Ireland. 
In Eighteen Hundred Seventy-nine, Illinois sent, 
through the agency of the Chicago Board of Trade, a 
shipload of wheat, corn and pork to starving Ireland. 
T. P. O'Connor, who took an active part in the distribu- 
tion of these humane gifts, said on the floor of the House 
of Commons that more than one instance had come to 
his notice where the Irish peasants had availed them- 
selves of flour and meal, but the pork given them was 
taken by the landlords' agents, " because many Irish 
families had never acquired a taste for meat, the pigs 
they raised being sold to pay the rent/' 
Just here, lest any tender-hearted reader be tempted to 
tears on behalf of the Irish tenantry, I will quote am 
Irishman, a vegetarian first by force and then by habit* 
George Bernard Shaw: 

The person to pity is the landlord and his incompetent 
family, and not the peasantry. In Ireland, the absentee 
landlord is bitterly reproached for not administering 
his estate in person. It is pointed out, truly enough, 
that the absentee is a pure parasite upon the industry 

177 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



of his country. The indispensable minimum of attention 
to his estate is paid by the agent or solicitor, whose 
resistance to his purely parasitic activity is fortified by 
the fact that the estates belong most to the mort- 
gagees, and that the nominal landlord is so ignorant of 
his own affairs that he can do nothing but send begging 
letters to his agent. 

On these estates generations of peasants (and agents) 
live hard but bearable lives; whilst off them generations 
of ladies and gentlemen of good breeding and natural 
capacity are corrupted into drifters, wasters, drinkers, 
waiters-for-dead-menVshoes, poor relations and social 
wreckage of all sorts, living aimless lives, and often 
dying squalid and tragic deaths. 



178 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




N County Wicklow, Ireland, in Eighteen 
Hundred Forty-six, Charles Stewart Parnell 
was born. In that year there was starvation 
in Ireland. Thousands died from lack of food, 
just as they died in that other English possession, 
India, in Nineteen Hundred One. Famished babes, 
sucking at the withered breasts of dying mothers, were 
common sights on the public highways. 
Iowa and Illinois had not then got a-going; the cable 
was to come, and the heart of Christian England was 
unpricked by public opinion. And all the time while 
famine was in progress, sheep, pigs and cattle were 
being shipped across the Channel to England. It was 
the famine of Eighteen Hundred Forty-six that started 
the immense tide of Irish immigration to America. And 
England fanned and favored this exodus, for it was very 
certain that there were too many mouths to feed in 
Ireland half the number would not so jeopardize the 
beer and skittles of the landlords. 

Parnell's father was a landed proprietor living in 
Ireland, but whose ancestors had originally come from 
England. The Parnell estate was not large, compar- 
atively, but it was managed so as to give a very com- 
fortable living for the landlord and his various tenants. 
The mother of young Parnell was Delia Stewart, an 
American girl, daughter of Admiral Stewart of the 
United States Navy. 

In that dread year of Eighteen Hundred Forty-six* 

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PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



when the potato crop failed, the Parnells took no rent 
from their tenants; and Mrs. Parnell rode hundreds of 
miles in a jaunting-car, distributing food and clothing 
among the needy. Doubtless there were a great many 
other landlords and agents just as generous as the 
Parnells, filled with the same humane spirit; but the 
absentee landlords were for the most part heedless, 
ignorant, and indifferent to the true state of affairs 58 
Charles Parnell grew up a fine, studious, thoughtful boy. 
He prepared for college and took a turn of two years at 
Cambridge. He then returned to Ireland, because his 
help was needed in looking after the estate hence he 
never secured his degree. But he had the fine, eager, 
receptive mind that gathers gear as it goes. His mother 
was an educated woman, and educated mothers have 
educated children. 

That is a very wise scheme of child-education, the 
education of the mother, a plan which is indeed not yet 
fully accepted by civilization; but which will be as soon 
as we become enlightened. 

From his mother's lips Charles learned the story of 
America's fight for independence, and the rights of man 
was a subject ingrained in his character. 



180 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




IRELAND is a country that has a climate as 
nearly perfect as we can imagine, and topo- 
graphically, it is beautiful beyond compare. 
Yet here, among physical conditions which 
are most entrancing, existed a form of slavery not far 
removed from that which existed in the Southern States 
in Eighteen Hundred Sixty. It was a system inaugurated 
by men long dead, and which had become ossified upon 
both tenant and landlord (slave and slave-owner) by 
years of precedent, so neither party had the power to 
break the bonds. 

In some ways it was worse than African slavery, for the 
material wants of the blacks were usually fairly well 
looked after. To be sure, the Irish could run away and 
not be brought back in chains; but in Eighteen Hundred 
Seventy-six, a bill was introduced in Parliament 
restricting Irish immigration, and forbidding any tenant 
who was in debt to a landlord leaving the country 
without the landlord's consent. 

Had this bill not been bitterly opposed, the Irish people 
would have been subject to peonage equal to absolute 
slavery. As young Parnell grew he was filled with but 
one theme: how to better the condition of his people Si 
In arousing public sentiment against the bill, young 
Parnell found his oratorical wings. 
Shortly after this he was elected to Parliament from 
County Meath. He was then twenty-seven years old. 
He had never shaved, and his full brown beard and 

181 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



serions, earnest, dignified manner, coupled with his 
six-foot-two physique, attracted instant attention. He 
wore a suit of gray, Irish homespun, but the require- 
ments of Parliament demanded black with a chimney- 
pot hat the hat being always religiously worn in 
session, except when the member addressed the Chair 
and to these Piccadilly requirements Parnell gracefully 
adjusted himself. 

Parnell seemed filled with the idea, from the days of his 
youth, that he had a mission he was to lead his people 
out of captivity. This oneness of purpose made itself 
felt in the House of Commons from his first entrance. 
All parliamentary bodies are swayed by a few persons 
the working members are the exception. The horse- 
racing and cockfighting contingent in the House of 
Commons is well represented ; the blear eyes, the poddy 
pudge, the bulbous beak all these are in evidence. If 
one man out of ten knows what is going on, it is well; 
and this is equally true of Washington, for our repre- 
sentatives do not always represent us. 
Parnell, although a fledgling in years when he entered 
the House of Commons, quickly took the measure of the 
members, and conceived for them a fine scorn, which 
some say he exhibited in italics and upper case. This was 
charged up against him to be paid for later at usurious 
interest 53 $& 

Precedent provided that he should not open his Irish 
mouth during the entire first session; but he made his 
182 



PARNELL'AND KITTY O'SHEA 



presence felt from the first day he entered the House, 
<I By a curious chance a Coercion Bill was up for dis- 
cussion, there being always a few in stock. Some of the 
tenantry had refused to either pay or depart, and a move 
was on foot to use the English soldiery to evict the mal- 
contents in a wholesale way. 

Joseph Biggar had the floor and declared the bill was 
really a move to steal Irish children and sell them into 
perpetual peonage. Biggar was talking against time, 
and the House groaned. Biggar was a rich merchant 
from Ulster, and he was a big man, although without 
oratorical ability or literary gifts. His heart was right, 
but he lacked mental synthesis. He knew little of 
history, nothing of political economy, despised prece- 
dents, had a beautiful disdain for all rules, and for all 
things English he held the views of Fuzzy-Wuzzy, 
whose home is in the Sudan. However, Biggar was 
shrewd and practical, and had a business sense that 
most of the members absolutely lacked. And moreover 
he was entirely without fear. Usually his face was 
wreathed in cherubic smiles. He had the sweetly 
paternal look of Horace Greeley, in disposition was just 
as stubborn, and, like Horace, chewed tobacco. 
The English opposed the Irish members, and Biggar 
reciprocated the sentiment. They opposed everything 
he did, and it came about that he made it his particular 
business to block the channel for them. 
*' Why are you here? " once exclaimed an exasperated 

183 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



member to Joseph Biggar. fl " To rub you up, sir, to 
rub you up! " was the imperturbable reply. He shocked 
the House and succeeded in getting himself thoroughly 
hated by his constant reference to absentee landlords as 
" parasites " and " cannibals." And the fact that there 
were many absentee landlords in the House only urged 
him on to say things unseemly, irrelevant and often 
unprintable S3 S3 

And so Biggar was making a speech on the first day that 
Parnell took his seat. Biggar was sparring for time, 
fighting off a vote on the Coercion Bill. He had spoken 
for four hours, mostly in a voice inaudible, and had read 
from the London Directory, the Public Reports and the 
Blue Book, and had at last fallen back on Doctor 
Johnson's Dictionary, when Parnell, in his simple 
honesty, interjected an explanation to dissolve a little 
of the Biggar mental calculi. Biggar, knowing Parnell, 
gave way, and Parnell rose to his feet. His finely 
modulated, low voice searched out the inmost corners of 
the room, and every sentence he spoke contained an 
argument. He was talking on the one theme he knew 
best. Members came in from the cloakrooms and the 
Chair forgot his mail a man was speaking. 
Gladstone happened to be present, and while not at the 
time sympathizing with the intent of Parnell, was yet 
enough attracted to the young man to say, " There is 
the future Irish leader: the man has a definite policy 
and a purpose that will be difficult to oppose/' 
184 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



In January, Eighteen Hundred Eighty, at the Academy 
Q Music, Buffalo, New York, I attended the first meet- 
ing of the American Branch of the Irish Land League. 
fl I was a cub reporter, with no definite ideas about 
Parnell or Irish affairs, and as at that time I had not been 
born again, I had a fine indifference for humanity across 
the sea. To send such a woolly proposition to report 
Parnell was the work of a cockney editor, born with a 
moral squint, within sound of Bow Bells. To him Irish 
agitators were wearisome persons, who boiled at low 
temperature, who talked much and long. All the Irish 
he knew worked on the section or drove drays. 
At this meeting the first citizens of Buffalo gave the 
proceedings absent treatment. The men in evidence 
were mostly harmless: John J. McBride, Father Cronin, 
James Mooney, and a liberal mixture of Mc's and O's 
made up the rest; and as I listened to them I made 
remarks about " Galways " and men who ate the rind 
of watermelons and " threw the inside away." 
Judge Clinton, of Buffalo, grandson of De Witt Clinton, 
had been inveigled into acting as chairman of the 
meeting, and I remember made a very forceful speech. 
He introduced Michael Davitt, noticeable for his one 
arm. All orators should have but one arm the empty 
sleeve for an earnest orator being most effective. Davitt 
spoke well: he spoke like an aroused contractor to 
laborers who were demanding shorter hours and more 
pay ** 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



Davitt introduced ParnelL I knew Davitt, but did not 
know ParnelL Before Parnell had spoken six words, I 
recognized and felt his superiority to any other man on 
the stage or in the audience. His speech was very 
deliberate, steady, sure, his voice not loud, but under 
perfect control. The dress, the action, the face of the 
man were regal. Afterwards I heard he was called the 
*' Uncrowned King/' and I also understood how certain 
Irish peasants thought of him as a Messiah. His plea 
was for a clear comprehension of the matter at issue, 
that it might be effectively dealt with, without heat, 
or fear, or haste. He carried a superb reserve and used 
no epithets. He showed how the landlords were born 
into their environment, just as the Irish peasantry were 
heirs to theirs. The speech was so full of sympathy and 
rich in reason, so convincing, so pathetic, so un-Irishlike, 
so charged with heart, and a heart for all humanity, 
even blind and stupid Englishmen, that everybody was 
captured, bound with green withes, by his quiet, con- 
vincing eloquence. The audience was melted into a 
whole, that soon forgot to applaud, but just listened 
breathlessly. 

It was on this occasion that I heard the name of Henry 
George mentioned for the first time. Parnell quoted 
these words from " Progress and Poverty ": 

Man is a land-animal. A land-animal can not live 
without land. All that man produces comes from the 
land; all productive labor, in the final analysis, consists 
186 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



in working up land, or materials drawn from land, into 
such forms as fit them for the satisfaction of human 
wants and desires. Man's very body is drawn from the 
land. Children of the soil, we come from the land, and 
to the land we must return. Take away from man all 
that belongs to the land, and what have you but a 
disembodied spirit? Therefore, he who holds the land on 
which and from which another man must live is that 
man's master; and the man is his slave. The man who 
holds the land on which I must live, can command me 
to life or to death just as absolutely as though I were his 
chattel. Talk about abolishing slavery! We have not 
abolished slavery; we have only abolished one rude 
form of it chattel slavery. There is a deeper and more 
insidious form, a more cursed form yet before us to 
abolish, in this industrial slavery that makes a man a 
virtual slave, while taunting him and mocking him in 
the name of freedom. 

We hear only a few speeches in a lifetime, possibly a 
scant half-dozen if you have heard that many you 
have done well. Wouldn't you have liked to hear 
Webster's reply to Hayne, Wendell Phillips at Faneuil 
Hall, Lincoln answering Douglas, or Ingersoll at the 
Soldiers' Reunion at Indianapolis? 



187 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




APTAIN O'SHEA was the son of an Irish 
landlord, living in England on a goodly 
allowance. He was a very fair specimen of the 
absentee. When obscurity belched him forth 
m the year Eighteen Hundred Eighty, he was a class D 
politician, who had evolved from soldiering through the 
ambitious efforts of his wife. He held a petty office in 
the Colonial Department, where the work was done by 
faithful clerks, grown gray in the service. 
He was a man without either morals or ideals. Careful 
search fails to reveal a single remark he ever made 
worthy of record, or a solitary act that is not just as well 
forgotten. 

Every City Hall has dozens of just such men, and all 
political capitals swarm with them* They are the sons 
of good families, and have to be taken care of Remit- 
tance-Men, Astute Persons, Clever Nobodies, Good 
Fellows! They are more to be pitied than slaving 
peasants. God help the rich the poor can work! 
Work is a solace 'gainst se lf a sanctuary and a refuge 
from the Devil, for Satan still finds mischief for idle 
hands to do. The Devil lies in wait for the idler; and the 
Devil is the idler, and every idler is a devil. Saintship 
consists in getting busy at some useful work. 
When Katharine Wood, daughter of Sir Page Wood, 
became Mrs. O'Shea, she was yet in her teens. Her 
husband was twenty. Neither knew what they were 
doing, or where they were going. 
188 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



Captain O'Shea in his shining uniform was a showy 
figure, and that his captaincy had been bought and 
paid for was a matter that troubled nobody. The pair 
was married, and when once tied by an ecclesiastic knot, 
they proceeded to get acquainted. A captain in the 
English Army who has a few good working sergeants is 
nothing and nobody. If he has enough money he can 
pay to get the work done, and the only disadvantage is 
that real soldiers scorn him, for soldiers take the 
measure of their officers, just as office-boys gauge the 
quality of the head clerk, or a salesman sizes a floor- 
walker. Nobody is deceived about anybody except for 
about an hour at a time. 

When the time came for Captain O'Shea to drop out of 
the military service and become a civilian clerk in the 
Colonial Office, the army was glad. Non-comps are 
gleefully sloughed in the army, just as they are in a 
railroad-office or a department-store. 
Yet Captain O'Shea was not such a bad person: had 
he been born poor and driven a dray, or been under- 
study to a grocer, he would very likely have evolved 
into a useful and inoffensive citizen. The tragedy all 
arose from that bitter joke which the stork is always 
playing: sending commonplace children to people of 
power. 

And then we foolish mortals try to overawe Nature by 
a Law of Entail, which supplies the Aristophanes of 
Heaven and Gabriel many a quiet smile. The stork is 

189 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



certainly a bird that has no sense. Power that is earned 
is never ridiculous, but power in the hands of one who 
is strange to it is first funny, then fussy, and soon 
pathetic. Punk is a useful substance, and only serves as 
metaphor when it tries to pass for bronze. 
So, then, behold Katharine O'Shea handsome, wistful, 
winsome, vivacious and intelligent, with a brain as 
keen as that of Becky Sharp, yet as honest as Amelia 
getting her husband transferred from the army to the 
civil list. 

He was an Irishman, and his meager salary in the office 
had to be helped out with money wrung from Irish 
peasantry by landlords' agents. Captain O'Shea knew 
little about his estate, and was beautifully ignorant of 
its workings; but once he and his wife went over to 
Ireland, and the woman saw things the man did not 
and could not. 

The Irish agitation was on, and the heart of the English 
girl went out to her brothers and sisters across the Chan- 
nel Marriage had tamed her, sobered her dreams, 
disillusioned her fancies. In her extremity she turned to 
humanity, as women turn to religion. In fact, humanity 
was to her a religion: her one thought was how to relieve 
and benefit Ireland Ireland which supplied her that 
whereby she lived! She felt like a cannibal at the 
thought of living off the labor of these poor 
people S3 S& 

She read and studied the Irish problem, and one day 
190 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



copied this passage from Henry George into her common- 
place-book: 

Ireland has never yet had a population which the 
natural resources of the country could not have main- 
tained in ample comfort. At the period of her greatest 
population (Eighteen Hundred Forty to Eighteen Hun^ 
dred Forty-five), Ireland contained more than eight 
millions of people. But a very large proportion of them 
managed merely to exist lodging in miserable cabins, 
clothed in miserable rags, and with potatoes only as 
their staple food. When the potato-blight came, they 
died by thousands. But it was not the inability of the 
soil to support so large a population that compelled so 
many to live in this miserable way, and exposed them 
to starvation on the failure of a single root-crop. On the 
contrary, it was the same remorseless rapacity that 
robbed the Indian peasant of the fruits of his toil and 
left him to starve where Nature offered plenty. When 
her population was at its highest, Ireland was a food- 
exporting country. Even during the famine, grain, meat, 
butter and cheese were carted for exportation along 
roads lined with the starving, and past trenches into 
which the dead were piled. For these exports of food 
there was no return. It went not as an exchange, but as 
a tribute, to pay the rent of absentee landlords a levy 
wrung from producers by those who in no wise con- 
tributed to the production* 

Captain O'Shea was not at all interested. He had the 
brain of a blackbird, but not enough mind to oppose his 
wife. He just accepted life, and occasionally growled 

191 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



because more money did not come from this agent 
in Galway that was all f He still nominally belonged 
to the army, was a member of " The Canteen," a 
military club, played billiards in Winter and cricket in 
Summer, and if at long intervals he got plain drunk, it 
was a matter of patriotism done by way of celebrating 
a victory of English arms in the Congo, and therefore in 
the line of duty. Captain O'Shea never beat his wife, 
even in his cups, and the marriage was regarded as a 
happy one by the neighboring curate who occasionally 
looked in, and at times enjoyed a quiet mug with the 
Captain 38 32 

Mrs. O'Shea knew several of the Irish Members of 
Parliament; in fact, one of them was a cousin of her 
husband 33 33 

This cousin knew John Dillon and William O'Brien. 
Dillon and O'Brien knew Parnell, and belonged to his 
" advisory board/' 

Mrs. O'Shea was a member of Ruskin's Saint George 
Society, and had outlined a plan to sell the handicraft 
products made in the Irish homes, it being the desire 
of Ruskin to turn Irish peasantry gradually from a 
dependence on agriculture to the handicrafts. Mrs. 
O'Shea had a parlor sale in her own house, of laces, rugs 
and baskets made by the Irish cottagers. 
John Dillon told Parnell of this. Parnell knew that such 
things were only palliative, but he sympathized with 
the effort, and when in June, Eighteen Hundred Eighty, 
192 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



he accepted an invitation to dine at the O'Shea's with 
half a dozen other notables, it was quite as a matter of 
course. How could he anticipate that he was making 
history! 

Disappointment in marriage had made lines under the 
eyes of pretty Kitty O'Shea and strengthened her 
intellect 53 S& 

Indifference and stupidity are great educators they 
fill one with discontent and drive a person onward and 
upward to the ideal. A whetstone is dull, but it serves 
to sharpen Damascus blades. 

Mrs. O'Shea's heart was in the Irish cause. Parnell 
listened at first indulgently then he grew interested. 
The woman knew what she was talking about. She was 
the only woman he had ever seen who did, save his 
mother, whose house had once been searched by the 
constabulary for things Fenian. He listened, and then 
shook himself out of his melancholy, 
Parnell was not a society man he did not know 
women all petty small talk was outside of his orbit* 
He regarded women as chatterers, children, undeveloped 
men. He looked at Kitty O'Shea and listened. She had 
coal-black, wavy hair, was small, petite, and full of 
nervous energy. She was not interested in Parnell; she 
was interested in his cause. They loved the same things. 
They looked at each other and talked. And then they 
sat silent and looked at each other, realizing that 
people who do not understand each other without talk* 

193 



PARNELL ^AND KITTY O'SHEA 



never can with. To remain silent in each other's presence 
is the test. Within a week Parnell called at the O'Shea's, 
with Dillon, and they drank tea out of tiny cups. 
Parnell was thirty-four, and bachelors of thirty-four 
either do not know women at all, or else know them too 
well. Had Parnell been an expert specialist in femininity, 
he would never have gone to see Mrs. O'Shea the second 
time. She was an honest woman with a religious oneness 
of aim, and such are not the ladies for predaceous 
holluschickies S& 33 

Parnell went alone to call on Mrs. O'Shea he wanted 
to consult with her about the Land League. By explain- 
ing his plans to her, he felt that he could get them more 
clearly impressed on his own mind. For he could trust 
her, and best of all, she understood she understood! 



194 



FARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




1BOUT six months after this, London was 
convulsed with laughter at a joke too good to 
keep: One Captain O'Shea had challenged 
Charles Parnell, the Irish Leader, to a duel. 
Parnell accepted the challenge, but the fight was off, 
because Thomas Mayne had gone to O'Shea and told 
him he " would kick him the length of Rotten Row if 
he tried to harm or even opened his Galway yawp 
about ParnelL" 33 33 

O'Shea had a valise which he said he had found in his 
wife's room, and this valise belonged to Parnell! The 
English members talked of ParnelFs aberration and 
carelessness concerning his luggage; and all hands 
agreed that O'Shea, whoever he was, was a fool a 
hot-headed, egotistical rogue, trying to win fame for 
himself by challenging greatness. 

" Suppose that Parnell kills him, it is no loss to the 
world; but if O'Shea kills Parnell, the Irish cause is lost/* 
said John Dillon, who went to see O'Shea and told him 
to go after some pigmy his own size. 
Sir Patrick O'Brien said to O'Shea, " You dress very 
well, Captain O'Shea, but you are not the correct 
thing/' 33 33 

As for London's upper circles, why, it certainly was a 
lapse for Parneli to leave his valise in the lady's room. 
Parnell the Puritan Parnell the man who used no 
tobacco or strong drink, and never was known to slip a 
swear-word: Parnell the Irish Messiah! Ha, ha, ha! S3 

195 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



As for the love-affair, all M P/s away from home with- 
out their families have them. You can do anything you 
choose, provided you do not talk about it, and you can 
talk about anything you choose, provided you do not 
do it. Promiscuity in London is a well-recognized fact, 
but a serious love-affair is quite a different thing. No 
one for a moment really believed that Parnell was so 
big a fool as to fall in love with one woman, and be true 
to her, and her alone that was too absurd! 
Captain O'Shea resigned his civil office and went back 
to his command. He was sent for service to India, where 
he remained for more than a year. When he returned to 
London, he did not go to Mrs* O'Shea's house, but took 
apartments downtown. 

In the year Eighteen Hundred Eighty-six, political 
London was roused by the statement that Captain 
O'Shea was a candidate from Galway for the House of 
Commons, and was running under the protection of 
Parnell. To the knowing ones in London it looked like a 
clear bargain and sale. O'Shea had tried to harass 
Parnell; Parnell had warned O'Shea never to cross his 
path, and now the men had joined hands. 
Parnell was in possession of O'Shea's wife, and O'Shea 
was going to Parliament with Parnell's help! O'Shea 
was a notoriously unfit man for a high public office, and 
Joseph Biggar and others openly denounced Parnell for 
putting forth such a creature. " He '11 vote with the 
b'hoys, so what difference does it make?" said Sullivan. 
196 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



" The b'hoys," who vote as they are told, are in every 
legislative body. They are not so much to be feared as 
men with brains. Parnell went over to Ireland, and 
braved the mob by making speeches for O'Shea, and 
O'Shea was elected. 

Parnell was evidently caught in a trap he did the 
thing he had to do. His love for the woman was a 
consuming passion her love for him was complete. 
Only death could part them. And besides, their hearts 
were in the Irish cause. To free Ireland was their 
constant prayer. 

Scandal, until taken up by the newspapers, is only 
rumor. The newspapers seldom make charges until the 
matter gets into court they fear the Iibel4aws but 
when the court lends an excuse for giving " the news," 
the newspapers turn themselves loose like a pack of 
wolves upon a lame horse that has lost its way. And 
the reason the newspapers do this is because the people 
crave the savory morsel. 

The newspapers are published by men in business, and 
the wares they carry are those in demand: mostly 
gossip, scandal and defamation. And humanity is of 
such a quality that it is not scandalized or shocked by 
facts, but by the recital of the facts in the courts or 
public prints. 



197 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




HE House of Commons, In Eighteen Hundred 
Ninety, was at last ready to grant Home 
Rule to Ireland. 

A bill satisfactory to the majority was pre- 
pared, and Parnell and Gladstone, the two strongest 
men of their respective countries, stood together in 
perfect accord. Then it was, in that little interval of 
perfect peace, that there came the explosion. Captain 
O'Shea brought suit against his wife for divorce. The 
affair was planned not only to secure the divorce, but 
also to do it in the most sensational and salacious 
manner. The bill of complaint, a voluminous affair, was 
really an alleged biography of Charles Parnell, and 
placed his conduct in the most offensive light possible. 
It recited that for more than ten years Parnell and 
Mrs. O'Shea had lived together as man and wife; that 
they had traveled together on the Continent under an 
alias; that Parnell had shaved off his beard to escape 
identity; and that the only interval of virtue that had 
come to the guilty couple since they first met was when 
Parnell was in Kilmainham Jail. The intent of the 
complaint was plainly to arouse a storm of indignation 
against Parnell that would make progress for any 
measure he might advocate, quite out of the question. 
The landlords were so filled with laughter that they 
forgot to collect rent; and the tenants were so amazed 
and wroth at the fall of their leader that they cashed 
up or did n't, as the case happened. Scandal filled the 
198 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



air; the newspapers issued extras,* and ten million 
housewives called the news over back fences. 
And now at this distance it is very plain that the fuse 
was laid and fired by some one beside Captain O'Shea. 
The woman who was once his wife, O'Shea had not 
seen for five years, and was quite content in the snug 
arrangements he had in the interval made for himself. 
^fWhen the divorce was granted without opposition, 
Justin McCarthy wrote, 6t Charles Stewart Parnell is 
well hated throughout Great Britain, but Captain 
O'Shea is despised." 

The question has often been asked, " Who snatched 
Home Rule from Ireland just as she reached for it? " 
Opinions are divided, and I might say merged by most 
Irish people, thus: O'Shea, Parnell, Gladstone, Katha- 
rine O'Shea. 

Fifteen years have softened Irish sentiment toward 
Parnell, and anywhere from Blarney to Balleck you 
will get into dire difficulties if you hint ill of Parnell. 
Gladstone and O'Shea are still unforgiven. In Cork I 
once spoke to a priest of Kitty O'Shea, and with a little 
needless acerbity the man of God corrected me and said, 
"You mean Mrs. Katharine Parnell!" And I apologized. 
^f The facts are that no one snatched Home Rule from 
Ireland. Ireland pushed it from her. Had Ireland stood 
by Charles Parnell when it came out that he loved, and 
had loved for ten years, a most noble, intellectual, 
honest and excellent woman, Parnell would have still 

199 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



been the Irish Leader the Uncrowned King. Glad- 
stone did not desert the Irish Cause until the Irish had 
deserted ParnelL Then Gladstone followed their example 
and gladly. Since then Home Rule for Ireland has 
been a joke. 

The most persistent defamer of Charles Parnell never 
accused the man of promiscuous conduct, nor of being 
selfish and sensual in his habit of life. He loved this one 
woman, and never loved another. And when a scurrilous 
reporter, hiding behind anonymity, published a story 
to the effect that Katharine O'Shea had had other 
love-affairs, the publisher, growing alarmed, came out 
the following day with a disclaimer, thus: 
" If Mrs* O'Shea has had other irregular experiences, 
they are, so far, unknown to the public/* 
It was an ungracious retraction but a retraction still 
and caused a few Irish bricks to find the publisher's 
plate glass. 

The Irish lost Home Rule by allowing themselves to be 
stampeded. Their English friends, the enemy, playing 
upon their prejudices, they became drunk with hate, 
and then their shillalahs resounded a tattoo upon the 
head of their leader. Nations and people who turn upon 
their best friends are too common to catalog. 
In the "Westminster Review" for January, Eighteen 
Hundred Ninety-one, Elizabeth Cady Stanton says: 
" The spectacle of a whole nation hounding one man, 
and determined to administer summary punishment, is 
200 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



pitiful at a time when those who love their fellowmen 
are asking for all the best moral appliances and condi- 
tions for the reformation of mankind. Force, either in 
the form of bodily infliction or of mental lashing, has been 
abandoned by the experienced as evil and ineffective in 
all its attributes. Acting on this principle, what right 
has a nation to turn its whole engine of denunciation 
upon a human being for the violation of a personal 
unsettled question of morals? " 

A great, noble and unswerving love between a man and 
a woman, mentally mated, is an unusual affair. That 
the Irish people should repudiate, scorn and spurn a 
man and a woman who possessed such a love is a criticism 
on their intelligence that needs no comment. But the 
world is fast reaching a point where it realizes that 
honesty, purity of purpose, loyalty and steadfastness in 
love fit people for leadership, if anything does or can, 
and that from such a relationship spring justice, free- 
dom, charity, generosity and the love that suffereth 
long and is kind. There is no freedom on earth or in any 
star for those who deny freedom to others. 
The people who desire political Home Rule must first of 
all learn to rule their own spirits, and be willing to 
grant to individuals the right and privilege of Home 
Rule in the home where love alone rules. 



201 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 




1ROM the time that O'Shea took his seat in 
Parliament, Parnell showed by his face and 
manner that he was a man with a rope tied to 
his foot. His health declined, he became 
apprehensive, nervous, and at times lost the perfect 
poise that had won for him the title of the " Uncrowned 
King/* He had bargained with a man with whom no 
contract was sacred, and he was dealing with people as 
volatile and uncertain as Vesuvius. 

/* I have within my hand a Parliament for Ireland," 
said Parnell in a speech to a mob at Galway. " I have 
within my hand a Parliament for Ireland, and if you 
destroy me, you destroy Home Rule for Ireland! " 
And the Irish people destroyed Parnell. In this they 
had the assistance of Gladstone, who after years of 
bitter opposition to Parnell had finally been won over 
to Ireland's cause, not being able to disrupt it. When we 
can not down a strong man in fair fight, all is not lost 
we can still join hands with him. When Captain O'Shea 
secured a divorce from his wife, naming Parnell as 
co-respondent, and Parnell practically pleaded guilty 
by making no defense, the rage against Parnell was so 
fierce that if he had appeared in Ireland, his life would 
have paid the forfeit. 

Then, when in a few months he married the lady accord- 
ing to the Civil Code, but without Episcopal or Catholic 
sanction, the storm broke afresh, and a hypocritical 
world worked overtime trying to rival the Billingsgate 
202 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



Calendar, The newspapers employed watchers, who 
picketed the block where Parnell and his wife lived, and 
telegraphed to Christendom the time the lights were out, 
and whether Mr, Parnell appeared with a shamrock 
or a rose in his buttonhole. The facts that Mrs. Parnell 
wore her hair in curls, and smilingly hummed a tune as 
she walked to the corner, were construed into proof of 
brazen guilt and a desire to affront respectable society. 
fl Gladstone was a strict Churchman, but he was also a 
man of the world. ParnelFs offense was the offense 
committed by Lord Nelson, Lord Hastings, the Duke 
of Wellington, Sir Charles Dilke, Shakespeare, and 
most of those who had made the name and fame of 
England worldwide. Gladstone might have stood by 
Parnell and steadied the Nationalist Party until the 
storm, of bigotry and prejudice abated; but he saw his 
chance to escape from a hopeless cause, and so he 
demanded the resignation of ^ Parnell while the Irish 
were still rabid against the best friend they ever had. 
Feud and faction had discouraged Gladstone, and now 
was his chance to get out without either backing down 
or running away f By the stroke of a pen he killed the 
only man in Great Britain who rivaled him in power 
the only Irishman worthy to rank with O'Connor and 
Grattan.[t was an opportunity not to be lost just 
to take the stand of virtue and lift up his hands in 
affected horror, instead of stretching out those hands 
to help a man whose sole offense was that he loved a 

203 



PARNELL~AND KITTY O'SHEA 



woman with a love that counted not the cost, hesitated 
at no riskjiand which eventually led not only to financial 
and political ruin, but to death itself. 
Parnell died six months , after his marriage, from nerve- 
wrack that had known no respite for ten years. 
In half -apology for his turning upon Parnell, Gladstone 
once afterward said, " Home Rule for Ireland what 
would she do with it anyway? " In this belief that 
Home Rule meant misrule, he may have been right. 
James Bryce, a sane and logical thinker, thought so, 
too. But this did not relieve Gladstone of the charge of 
owning a lumber-yard and putting up the price of 
plank when his friend fell overboard. 
The ulster of virtue, put on and buttoned to the chin 
as an expedient move in times of social and political 
danger, is a garment still in vogue. 
Says James Bryce: 

To many Englishmen, the proposal to create an Irish 
Parliament seemed nothing more or less than a proposal 
to hand over to these men the government of Ireland, 
with all the opportunities thence arising to oppress the 
opposite party in Ireland and to worry England herself. 
It was all very well to urge that the tactics which the 
Nationalists had pursued when their object was to 
extort Home Rule would be dropped, because super- 
fluous, when Home Rule had been granted; or to point 
out that an Irish Parliament would probably contain 
different men from those who had been sent to 
Westminster as Mr. ParaelFs nominees. The internal 
204 



PARNELL AND KITTY O'SHEA 



condition of Ireland supplied more substantial grounds 
for alarm than English misrule. 

Three-fourths of the people are Roman Catholics, one- 
fourth Protestants, and this Protestant fourth sub- 
divided into bodies not fond of one another, who hav^ 
little community of sentiment* Besides the Scottish 
colony in Ulster, many English families have settled 
here and there through the country. They went further, 
and made the much bolder assumption that as such a 
Parliament would be chosen by electors, most of whom 
were Roman Catholics, it would be under the control 
of the Catholic priesthood, and hostile to Protestants. 
Thus they supposed that the grant of self-government 
to Ireland would mean the abandonment of the upper 
and wealthier class, the landlords and the Protestants, 
to the tender mercies of their enemies. The fact stood 
out that in Ireland two hostile factions had been con- 
tending for the last sixty years, and that the gift of 
self-government might enable one of them to tyrannize 
over the other. True, that party was the majority, and, 
according to the principles of democratic government, 
entitled therefore to prevail. The minority had the 
sympathy of the upper classes in England, because the 
minority contained the landlords. It had the sympathy 
of a large part of the middle class, because it contained 
the Protestants. There was another anticipation, another 
forecast of evils to follow, which told most of all upon 
English opinion. It was the notion that Home Rule was 
only a stage in the road to the complete separation of 
the two islands. ParnelFs campaign diluted the greed 
of landlords, but Ireland, politically, is yet where she has 
been for two hundred years, governed by bureaucrats. 

205 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




PETRARCH 



As to Vaucluse, I well know the beauties of that 
charming valley, and ten years* residence is proof of 
my affection for the place. I have shown my love of it 
by the house which I built there. There I began my 
article " Africa/* there I wrote the greater part of my 
epistles in prose and verse. At Vaucluse I conceived the 
first idea of giving an epitome of the Lives of Illustrious 
Men, and there I wrote my treatise on a Solitary Life, 
as well as that on religious retirement. It was there, 
also, that I sought to moderate my passion for Laura, 
which, alas, solitude only cherished. And so this lonely 
valley will be forever sacred to my recollections. 

Journal of Petrarch 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




LITERARY reputation once at- 
tained can never be lost," says 
Balzac. This for the reason that we 
find it much easier to admit a man's 
greatness than to refute it. The 
safest and most solid reputations 
are those of writers nobody reads. 
As long as a man is read he is being 
weighed, and the verdict is uncertain, which remark, of 
course, does not apply to the books we read with our 
eyes shut. 

Shakespeare's proud position today is possible only 
through the fact that he is not read. 
We get our Shakespeare from " Bartlett's Quotations*' : 
and the statement made by the good old lady that 
Shakespeare used more quotations than any other man 
who ever lived is true, although she should have added 
that he used blessed few quotation-marks. 
In all my life I never knew anybody, save one woman 
and a little girl, who read Shakespeare in the original. 
I know a deal of Shakespeare, although I never read one 
of his plays, and never could witness a Shakespearean 
performance without having the fidgets. All the 
Shakespeare I have, I caught from being exposed to 
people who have the microbe. 

I never yet met any one who read Petrarch. But every 

209 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



so-called educated person is compelled to admit the 

genius of Petrarch. 

We know the gentleman by sight; that is, we know the 

back of his books. 

And then we know that he loved Laura Petrarch and 

Laura! S& S3 

We walk into Paradise in pairs just as the toy animals 

go into a Noah's Ark, Shakespeare is coupled thus: 

Shakespeare and 

He wrote his sonnets to Her, exactly as did Dante, 
Petrarch and Rossetti. A sonnet is a house of life 
enclosing an ostermoor built for two. 
Petrarch is one of the four great Italian poets, and his 
life is vital to us because all our modern literature traces 
a pedigree to him. 

The Italian Renaissance is the dawn of civilization: the 
human soul emerging into wakefulness after its sleep of 
a thousand years. 

The Dark Ages were dark because religion was supreme, 
and to keep it pure they had to subdue every one who 
doubted it or hoped to improve upon it. So wrangle, 
dispute, faction, feud, plot, exile, murder and Sherlock 
Holmes absorbed the energies of men and paralyzed 
spontaneity and all happy, useful effort. The priest 
caught us coming and going. We had to be christened 
when we were born and given extreme unction when we 
died, otherwise we could not die legally hell was to 
pay, here and hereafter* 
210 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



The only thing that finally banished fear and stopped 
the rage for vengeance, revenge and loot was Love. 
Not the love for God, No! Just the love of man and 
woman 58 52 

Passionate, romantic love! When the man had 
evolved to a point where he loved one woman with an 
absorbing love, the rosy light of dawn appeared in the 
East, the Dark Ages sank into oblivion, and Civilization 
kicked off the covers and cooed in the cradle. 
Is it bad to love one woman with all the intensity that 
was formerly lavished on ten? Some people think so; 
some have always thought so in the Dark Ages every- 
body thought so. Religion taught it: God was jealous. 
Marriage was an expediency. Dante, Petrarch and 
Shakespeare live only because they loved. 
Literature, music, sculpture, painting, constitute art 
not, however, all of art. And art is a secondary sexual 
manifestation. Beauty is the child of married minds, and 
Emerson says, " Beauty is the seal of approval that 
Nature sets upon Virtue." 

So, if you please, love and virtue are one, and a lapse 
from virtue is a lapse from love. It is love that vitalizes 
the intellect to the creative point. So it will be found 
that men with the creative faculty have always been 
lovers. To give a list of the great artists that the world 
has seen would be to name a list of lovers. 
The Italian Renaissance was the birth of Romantic 
Love. It was a new thing, and we have not gotten used 

211 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



to it yet. It is so new to men's natures that they do not 
always know how to manage it, and so it occasionally 
runs away with them and leaves them struggling in the 
ditch, from which they emerge sorry sights, or laughable, 
according to the view of the bystander and the extent 
of the disaster. And yet, in spite of mishaps, let the 
truth stand that those who travel fast and go far, go by 
Love's Parcel-Post, concerning which there is no limit 
to the size of the package. 

Romantic Love was impossible at the time when men 
stole wives. When wife-stealing gave place to wife- 
buying, it was likewise out of the question. To win by 
performance of the intellect, the woman must have 
evolved to a point where she was able to approve and 
was sufficiently free to express delight in the lover's 
accomplishments. Instead of physical prowess she must 
be able to delight in brains. Petrarch paraded his poems 
exactly as a peacock does its feathers. 
And so it will be seen that it was the advance in the 
mental status of woman that made possible the Italian 
Renaissance. The Greeks regarded a woman who had 
brains with grave suspicion. 

The person who can not see that sex equality must come 
before we reach the millennium is too slow in spirit to 
read this book, and had better stop right here and get 
him to his last edition of the ** Evening Garbage." S& 
Lovers work for each other's approval, and so, through 
action and reaction, we get a spiritual chemical emulsion 
212 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



that, while starting with simple sex attraction, contains 

a gradually increasing percentage of phosphorus until 
we get a fusion of intellect: a man and a woman who 

think as one being. 



213 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




] OR the benefit of people with a Petrarch bee 
and time to incinerate, I may as well explain 
that Professor Marsand, of the ancient and 
honorable University of Padua, has collected 
a " Petrarch Library/* which consists of nine hundred 
separate and distinct volumes on the work and influence 
of Petrarch. This collection of books was sold to a 
French bibliophile for the tidy sum of forty thousand 
pounds, and is now in the Louvre. 

I have not read all of these nine hundred books, else 
probably I should not know anything about Petrarch. 
It seems that for two hundred years after the death of 
the poet there was a Petrarch cult, and a storm of 
controversy filled the literary air. 

The accounts of Petrarch's life up to the Eighteenth 
Century were very contradictory; there were even a 
few attempts to give him a supernatural parentage; and 
certain good men, as if to hold the balance true, denied 
that he had ever existed. 

Petrarch was born in Thirteen Hundred Four, and the 
same edict that sent Dante into exile caught the father 
of Petrarch in its coils. 

His father was a lawyer and politician, but on account 
of a political cyclone he became a soldier of fortune an 
exile. The mother got permission to remain, and there 
she lived with their little brood at Incisa, a small 
village on the Arno, fourteen miles above Florence S& 
It is a fine thing to live near a large city, but you should 
214 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



not go there any more often than you can help. A city 
supplies inspiration, from a distance, but once mix up 
in it and become a part of it, and you are ironed out and 
subdued. The characters and tendencies of the majority 
of men who have done things were formed in the 
country. Read the lives of the men who lifted Athens, 
Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, London and New 
York out of the fog of the commonplace, and you will 
find, almost without exception, that they were out- 
siders. Transplanted weeds often evolve into the finest 
flowers 55 55 

And so my advice would be to any one about to engage 
in the genius business: Do not spend too much time in 
the selection of your parents, beyond making sure that 
they are not very successful. They had better be poor 
than very rich. They had better be ignorant than 
learned, especially if they realize they are learned. They 
had better be morally indifferent than spiritually smug. 
If their puritanism is carried to a point where it abso- 
lutely repels, it then has its beneficent use, teaching by 
antithesis. They had better be loose in their discipline 
than carry it so far that it makes the child exempt from 
coming to conclusions of his own. And as for parental 
love, it had better be spread out than lavished so freely 
that it stands between the child and the result of his 
own misdeeds. 

In selecting environment, do not pick one too propitious, 
otherwise you will plant your roses in muck, when what 

215 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



they demand for exercise is a little difficulty in way of a 
few rocks to afford an anchor for roots. Genius grows 
only in an environment that does not fully satisfy, and 
the effort to better the environment and bring about 
better conditions is exactly the one thing that evolves 
genius 3S 3S 

Petrarch was never quite satisfied. To begin with, he 
was not satisfied with his father's name, which was 
Petracco. When our poet was fifteen he called himself 
Petrarch, probably with Plutarch in mind, " for the 
sake of euphony/' he said. But the fact was that his 
wandering father had returned home, and the boy 
looking him over with a critical eye was not overpleased 
with the gentleman. 

Then he became displeased with his mother for having 
contracted an intimacy with such a man. Hence the 
change of name he belonged to neither of them. But 
as this was at adolescence, the unrest of the youth 
should not be taken too seriously. 
The family had moved several times, living in half a 
dozen different towns and cities. They finally landed at 
Avignon, the papal capital. 

Matters had mended the fortunes of Petracco, and the 
boy was induced to go to Montpelier and study law. 
The legend has it that the father, visiting the son a few 
months later, found on his desk a pile of books on 
rhetoric and poetry, and these the fond parent straight- 
way flung into the fire. The boy entering the room about 
216 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



that time lifted such a protest that a " Vergil " and a 
*' Cicero " were recovered from the flames, but the 
other books, including some good original manuscript, 
went up in smoke. 

The mother of Petrarch died when our poet was twenty 
years of age. In about two years after, his father also 
passed away. Their loss did not crush him absolutely, 
for we find he was able to write a poem expressing a 
certain satisfaction on their souls being safely in Para- 
dise 53 S3 

At this time Petrarch had taken clerical orders and was 
established as assistant to the secretary of one of the 
cardinals. Up to his twentieth year Petrarch was self- 
willed, moody, and subject to fits of melancholy. He 
knew too much and saw things too clearly to be happy. 
<I Four authors had fed his growing brain Cicero, 
Seneca, Livy and Vergil. In these he reveled. "Always 
in my hand or hidden in my cloak I carried a book/' he 
says, " and thoughts seem to me to be so much more 
than things that the passing world the world of action 
and achievement seemed to me to be an unworthy 
world, and the world of thought to be the true and real 
world. It will thus be seen that I was young and my 
mind unformed/' 

The boy was a student by nature he had a hunger for 
books. He knew Latin as he did Italian, and was 
familiarizing himself with Greek. Learning was to him 
religion. Priests who were simply religious did not 

217 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



interest him. He Lad dallied in schools and monasteries 
at Montpelier, Pisa, Bologna, Rome, Venice and 
Avignon, moving from place to place, a dilettante of 
letters. At none of the places named had he really 
entered his name as a student. He was in a class by 
himself he knew more than his teachers, and from his 
nineteenth year they usually acknowledged it. He was a 
handsome youth, proud, quiet, low-voiced, self-reliant. 
His form was tall and shapely, his face dark and oval, 
with almost perfect features, his eyes especially expres- 
sive and luminous. 

Priests in high office welcomed him to their homes, and 
ladies of high degree sighed and made eyes at him as he 
passed, but they made eyes in vain. 
He was wedded to literature. The assistance he gave to 
his clerical friends in preparing their sermons and 
addresses made his friendship desirable. The good men 
he helped, occasionally placed mysterious honorariums 
in his way which he pocketed with a silent prayer of 
gratitude to Providence. 

A trifle more ambition, a modicum of selfishness, a dash 
of the worldly-wise, and his course would have been 
relieved of its curves, and he would have gravitated 
straight to the red hat. From this to being pope would 
have been but a step, for he was a king by nature, 
f But a pope must be a businessman, and a real, 
genuine king must draw his nightcap on over his crown 
every night or he '11 not keep his crown very long* 
218 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty, but 
also of everything else. High positions must be fought 
for inch by inch, and held by a vigilance that never 
sleeps 33 33 

Petrarch would not pay the price of temporal power. 
His heart was in the diphthong and anapest. He doted 
on a well-turned sentence, while the thing that caught 
the eye of Boccaccio was a well-turned ankle. 
It seems that Petrarch took that proud, cold position 
held by religious enthusiasts, and which young noviti- 
ates sincerely believe in, that when you have once 
entered the Church you are no longer subject to the 
frailties of the flesh, and that the natural appetites are 
left behind. This is all right when on parade, but there 
is an esoteric doctrine as well as an exoteric, which all 
wise men know, namely, that men are men, and women 
are women God made them so and that the tonsure 
and the veil are vain when Eros and Opportunity join 
hands 3$ 33 



219 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




]O man has ever taken the public more into his 
confidence than Petrarch, not even Rousseau, 
who confessed more than was necessary, and 
probably more than was true. 
Petrarch tells us that at twenty-two years of age he 
had descended from his high estate and been led into 
the prevailing follies of the court by more than one of 
the dames of high degree who flocked to Avignon, the 
seat of the Papal See. These women came from mixed 
motives: for their health, religious consolation, excite- 
ment S3 S3 

Petrarch states his abhorrence for the overripe, idle and 
feverish female intent on confession. He had known her 
too well, and so not only did he flee from the " Western 
Babylon," as he calls Avignon, but often remained 
away at times for two whole weeks. Like Richard 
Le Gallienne, who has Omar say: 

Think not that I have never tried your way 
To Heaven, you who pray and fast and pray, 

Once I denied myself both love and wine, 
Yea, wine and love for a whole Summer day. 

Much of this time Petrarch spent in repenting. He 
repined because he had fallen from the proud pedestal 
where he delighted to view himself, being both the 
spectator and the show. 

In his twenty-second year he met James Colonna, of the 
220 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



noble and illustrious Colonna family, and a fine friendship 
sprang up between them. The nobleman was evidently 
a noble man indeed, with a heart and head to appreciate 
the genius of Petrarch, and the good commonsense to 
treat the poet as an equal. 

Petrarch pays James Colonna a great tribute, referring 
to his moderation, his industry, his ability to wait on 
himself, his love for the out-of-doors. The friends used 
to take long walks together, and discuss Cicero and 
Vergil, seated on grassy banks by the wayside. 
" Men must have the friendship of men, and a noble, 
highminded companion seems a necessity to prevent 
too much inward contemplation. It is better to tell your 
best to a friend, than to continually revolve it." Look 
out, not in up, not down. Then Petrarch innocently 
adds, " I vowed I would not have anything to do with 
women, nor even in the social converse, but that my 
few friends should be sober, worthy and noble men of 
gravity/* 33 33 

No man is in such danger from strong drink as the man 
who has just sworn off. Petrarch with pious steps went 
regularly to early mass. By going to church early in the 
day he avoided the fashionable throng of females that 
attended later. Early in the morning one sees only fat 
market-women and fishwives. 

On the Sixth of April, Thirteen Hundred Twenty-seven, 
at six o'clock in the morning, Petrarch knelt in the 
Church of Saint Clara at Avignon. The morning was 

221 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



foggy, and the dim candles that dotted the church gave 
out a fitful flare. As Petrarch knelt with bowed head he 
repeated his vow that his only companions should be 
men men of intellect and that the one woman to 
arrest his thoughts should be his mother in Heaven 
peace be to her! 

And then he raised his head to gaze at the chancel, so 
his vow should there be recorded. He tried to look at 
the chancel, but failed to see that far. 
He could see only about ten feet ahead of him. What he 
saw was two braids of golden hair wound round a head 
like a crown of glory. It was a woman a delicate, 
proud and mavelous personality a woman ! He thought 
her a vision, and he touched the cold floor with his hands 
to see if he were awake. 

Petrarch began to speculate as to when she had entered 
the church. He concluded she had entered in spirit form 
and materialized there before him. He watched her, 
expecting any moment she would fade away into 
ethereal nothingness. He watched her* The fog of the 
cold church seemed to dissipate, the day grew brighter, 
a stray ray of light stole in and for an instant fell 
athwart the beautiful head of this wonderful woman 53 
Petrarch was now positive it was all a dream. 
Just at that moment the woman rose, and with her 
companion stood erect. Petrarch noted the green mantle 
sprinkled with violets. He also made mental note of the 

slender neck, the low brow, the length of the head, 

222 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



compared with the height, the grace, the poise, the intel- 
lect, the soul ! There he was on his knees not adoring 
Deity, just Her! The rest of the congregation were 
standing. She turned and looked at him a look of pity 
and reproof, tinged with amusement, but something in 
her wondrous eyes spoke of recognition they had 
something in common! 

She looked at him. Why did she turn and look at him? 
Don't ask me how do I know! 

Perhaps telepathy is a fact after all. It may be possible 
that man is a storage-battery man the positive, 
woman the negative I really can not say. Telepathy 
may be a fact it may hinge on the strength of the 
batteries, and the condition of currents. 
She turned and looked at him. He had disturbed her 
religious meditations rung up the wrong number she 
had turned and looked at him a look of recognition a 
look of pity, rebuke, amusement and recognition S3 
He rose and half-tiptoed, half-stumbled to the door, 
ashamed, chagrined, entranced. Ashamed because he 
had annoyed an Angel of Light, chagrined because he 
had lost his proud self-control and been unhorsed, 
entranced by the fact that the Angel of Light had 
recognized him. 

Still they had never before met. To have seen this 
woman once would have been unforgetable her glance 
had burned her brand into his soul. She had set her seal 

upon him he was hers. 

223 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



He guessed that she knew who he was he was sure he 
did not know her name, flf He lingered an instant at the 
church-door, crossed himself foolishly with holy water, 
then passed out into the early morning bustle of the 
streets 5& 55 

The cool air fanned his face, and the gentle breeze 
caressed his hair. He put his hand to his brow. 
He had left his hat left it in the church. He 
turned to go back after it, but it came over him 
that another glance from those eyes would melt him 
though he were bronze. He would melt as if he had 
met God face to face, a thing even Moses dare not do 
and hope to live. 

He stood in the church-door as if he were dazed. The 
verger came forward. " My hat, good Stephano, I left it 
just back of the fair lady/' He handed the man a piece 
of silver and the verger disappeared. Petrarch was sure 
he could not find the lady she was only a vision, a 
vision seen by him alone. He would see. 
The verger came back with the hat. 
"And the lady you you know her name? ** 
" Oh, she, the lovely lady with the golden hair? That is 
Laura, the wife of Hugh de Sade." 
"Of course, of course!" said Petrarch, and reaching 
into a leather pocket that was suspended from his belt 
under his cloak he took out a handful of silver and gave 
it to the astonished verger, and passed out and down the 
street, walking nowhere, needlessly fast. 
224 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



The verger followed Petrarch to the door and watching 
the tall retreating form muttered to himself, " He does 
not look like a man who cuts into the grape to excess 

and so early in the morning, too! " 



225 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




HAT was a foolish saying of Lord Byron, 
" Man's love is of man's life a thing apart; 
't is woman's whole existence." Does it not all 
depend upon the man and the woman? The 
extent and quality of a woman's love as compared with 
a man's have furnished the physiologists and psycholo- 
gists a great field for much innocent speculation. And 
the whole question is still unsettled, as it should be, 
and is left to each new crop of poets to be used as raw 
stock, just as though no one had ever dreamed, medi- 
tated and speculated upon it before. 
As for Petrarch and Laura, Laura's love was of her life 
apart, *t was Petrarch's whole existence. 
Laura was very safely married to a man several years 
her senior a stern, hard-headed, unromantic lawyer, 
who was what the old ladies call ** a good provider." 
He even provided a duenna, or chaperon of experience, 
one who knew all the subtle tricks of that base animal, 
man, and where Laura went there went the chaperon 33 
Petrarch once succeeded in slipping a purse of gold into 
the duenna's hands, and that worthy proved her fitness 
by keeping the purse, and increasing her watchfulness 
of her charge as the danger of the poet's passion 
increased. The duenna hinted that the sacrifice of her 
own virtue was not entirely out of the question, but 
Laura was her sacred charge. That is, the duenna could 
resist the temptations of Laura, 

This passion of Petrarch for Laura very quickly became 
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PETRARCH AND LAURA 



known and recognized. The duenna doubtless retailed 
It below-stairs, and the verger at the church also had 
his tale to tell. Love-stories allow us to live the lover's 
life vicariously, and so that which once dwelt in the 
flesh becomes a thought. Matchmakers are all living 
their lives over again in their minds. 
But besides the gossips, Petrarch himself made no secret 
of his passion. Almost daily he sent Laura a poem. She 
could have refused the gentle missive if she had wished, 
but she did not wish. 

Petrarch had raised her to a dizzy height. Wherever 
she went she was pointed out, and the attorney, her 
husband, hired another duenna to watch the first. This 
love of a youth for a married woman was at that time 
quite proper. The lady of the knight-errant might be 
one to whom he had never spoken. 
Petrarch sang for Laura; but he sang more melodiously 
than any one had sung before, save Dante alone. His 
homage was the honorable homage of the cavalier 3& 
Yet Hugh de Sade grew annoyed and sent a respectful 
request to Petrarch to omit it. 

This brought another sonnet, distributed throughout 
the town, stating that Petrarch's love was as sacred as 
that of his love for the Madonna, and indeed, he 
addressed Laura as the Madonna. 
Only at church did the lovers meet, or upon the street 
as they passed. Gossip was never allowed to evolve into 
scandal S& 58 2?7 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



Bliss Carman tells in a lecture of a fair and frail young 
thing crying aloud to her mother in bitter plaint, " He 
loves me yes, I know he loves me but only for 
Eterary purposes! " 

Love as a mental " Martini " is a well-known fact, but 
its cold, plotted concoction is a poison and not a 
stimulant. Petrarch's love for Laura was genuine and 
sincere; and that she fed and encouraged this love for 
twenty years, or to the day of her death, we know full 
well S3 5$ 

In Goethe's " Elective Affinities," the great German 
philosopher explains how a sublime passion can be 
preserved in all its purity on the Platonic plane for a 
long term of years. Laura was a married woman, 
wedded to a man she respected, but could not love. He 
ruled her she was his property. She found it easier to 
accept his rule than to rebel. Had his treatment of her 
descended to brutality, she would have flown to her 
lover or else died. One critic says: " Laura must have 
been of a phlegmatic type, not of a fine or sensitive 
nature, and all of her wants were satisfied, her life pro- 
tected and complete. The adoration of Petrarch was not 
a necessity to her it came in as a pleasing diversion, a 
beautiful compliment, but something she could easily 
do without* Had she been a maid and been kept the 
prisoner that she was, the flame of love would have 
burned her heart out, and life for her would have been 
a fatal malady, just as it was for Simonetta." 
228 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



And so we find Goethe coldly reasoning that a great 
Platonic love is possible where the woman is married to 
a man who is endurable, and the man is wedded to a 
woman he can not get rid of. " Thus four persons are 
required to work the miracle/' says Goethe, and glides 
off casually into another theme. 

Laura was flattered by Petrarch's attentions: she 
became more attentive than ever to her religious obli- 
gations. She wore the dresses he liked best. In her hair 
or on her breast there always rested a laurel-leaf. She 
was nothing loath to being worshiped. 
** You must not speak to me," she once whispered as 
they passed. And again she wrote on a slip of parchment, 
** Remember my good name and protect it." 
A note like that would certainly rouse a lover's soul. It 
meant that she was his in heart, but her good name 
must be protected, so as not to start a scandal. The sin 
was in being found out. 
A sonnet, extra warm, quickly followed. 
Petrarch was full of unrest. His eyes burned with fever; 
he walked the streets in despair. Colonna seeing his 
distress, and knowing the reason of it, sought to divert 
him. He offered to secure him a bishopric, or some other 
high office, where his energies would be absorbed. 
Petrarch would not accept office or responsibility. His 
heart was all bound up in Laura and literature. 
Colonna, in order to get his friend away from Avignon, 
then had himself appointed Bishop of Lombes, and 

229 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



engaged Petrarcli as his secretary. So the two friends 
started away for the new field, six hundred miles distant. 
They had a regular cavalcade of carriages and horse- 
men, for Colonna was a very rich man and everything 
was his for the asking. They traveled by a circuitous 
route, so as to visit many schools, monasteries and 
towns on the way. Everywhere honors were paid them. 
fThe change of scene, meeting so many new people, 
and the excitement of making public addresses, revived 
the spirits of Petrarch. Slowly the intensity of his 
passion subsided. He began to think of something else 
beside his ladylove. 

Petrarch kept a journal of his trip, which has been 
preserved for us in the form of letters. At one place on 
the route a most tragic circumstance came to his notice. 
It affected him so much that he wrote it out with many 
sorrowful comments. It seems a certain monk of decided 
literary and musical ability was employed by a noble- 
man to give music-lessons to his daughters. The inevi- 
table happened. 

Petrarch said it did not that the monk was wrongfully 
accused. Anyway, the father of the girl, who was the 
magistrate of the district, ordered the monk to be 
sealed up in a cell and to remain there the rest of his 
life. The girl was sent to a nunnery, and the monk in a 
few weeks succeeded in killing himself, and his cell 
became his grave. This kind of punishment, carried out 
by the judge, who according to our ideas had no right 
230 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



to try the case, reveals tke kind of ** justice " that 
existed only a few hundred years ago. 
The barbarity of the sentence came close home to 
Petrarch, and both he and the young bishop tell what 
they think of the Christianity that places a penalty on 
natural affection. 

So they hastened away from the monastery where had 
lived the monk whose love cost him his life, on to their 
own field of labor. 

Here Petrarch remained for two years. His health and 
spirits came back, but poetry had gone by the board. In 
Lombes there was no one who cared for poetry. 
Petrarch congratulated himself on having mastered Ms 
passion. Laura had become but a speck on the distant 
horizon, a passing incident of his youth. But he sighed 
for Avignon. There was life and animation, music, 
literature, art, oratory and the society of great men. 
Besides he wanted to prove to his own satisfaction that 
he had mastered his love for Laura. 
He would go back to Avignon. 

He went back; he saw Laura; she saw him, and passing 
him with a swift glance of recognition moved on. At 
sight of her his knees became weak, his heart seemed to 
stop and he leaned against a pillar for support. That 
night he eased his soul with a sonnet. 
To his great embarrassment he found he had not 
mastered his passion it was now mastering him. He 
tells us all this at length, and he told it to Laura, too. 

231 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



ff His health began to decline, and his physician advised 
that he move to the country. And so we find him taking 
a course of solitude as a cure for love. He moved to 
Vaucluse, a hamlet fifteen miles from the city. Some of 
the old-time biographies tried to show that Laura 
visited him there in his solitude, and that was the reason 
he lived there. It is now believed that such stories were 
written for the delectation of the Hearst Syndicate, and 
had no basis in fact. The only way Petrarch ever really 
met Laura was in imagination. 

Boccaccio, a contemporary and friend of Petrarch, 
declared that Laura had no existence outside of the 
imagination of the poet. But Boccaccio was a poet with 
a roistering proclivity, and truth to such a one in a 
love-affair is out of the question. Lies and love, with a 
certain temperament, go hand in hand. Possibly the 
absurd position of modern civilization towards the love- 
emotions has much to do with this. We have held that 
in human love there was something essentially base and 
bad, and so whenever a man or a woman become 
Involved in Cupid's meshes they are sudden and quick 
in swearing an alibi, no matter what the nature of the 
attachment may be. 

Boccaccio had to defend himself continually from 
charges, which most people knew were true, and so by 
habit he grew to deny everything, not only for himself, 
but for his friends. The poet needs solitude and society, 
in right proportions of course. 
232 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



Petrarch lived at Vaucluse for ten years, making 
occasional trips to various capitals. Of his solitary life 
he says: 

Here at Vaucluse I make war upon my senses, and treat 
them as my enemies. My eyes, which have drawn me 
into a thousand difficulties, see no longer either gold or 
precious stones, or ivory, or purple; they behold nothing 
save the water, the firmament and the rocks. The only 
female who comes within their sight is a swarthy old 
woman, dry and parched as the Lybian deserts. 'My 
ears are no longer courted by those harmonious instru- 
ments and voices which have so transported my soul; 
they hear no thing but the lowing of the cattle, the bleat- 
ing of the sheep, the warbling of the birds, and the 
murmurs of the river. 

I keep silence from noon till night. There is no one to 
converse with; for the people, employed in spreading 
their nets, or tending their vines and orchards, are no 
great adepts at conversation. I often content myself 
with the dry bread of the fisherman, and even eat it 
with pleasure. Nay, I almost prefer it to white bread. 
This old fisherman, who is as hard as iron, earnestly 
remonstrates against my manner of life; and assures me 
that I can not long hold out. I am, on the contrary, 
convinced that it is easier to accustom one's self to a 
plain diet than to the luxuries of the feast. I am fond of 
the fish with which this stream abounds, and I some- 
times amuse myself with spreading the nets. As to my 
dress, there is an entire change ; you would take me for 
a laborer or a shepherd. 

My mansion resembles that of Cato or Fabricius. My 

233 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



whole house-establishment consists of myself, my old 
fisherman and his wife, and a dog. My fisherman's 
cottage is near to mine; when I want him I call, when I 
no longer need him, he returns to his cottage. I have 
made two gardens that please me wonderfully. I do not 
think they are equaled in all the world. And I must 
confess to you a more than female weakness with which 
I am haunted, I am positively angry that there is any- 
thing so beautiful out of Italy. 

One of these gardens is shady, formed for contempla- 
tion, and sacred to Apollo. It overhangs the source of 
the river, and is terminated by rocks, and by places 
accessible only to the birds. The other is nearer to my 
cottage, of an aspect less severe, and devoted to 
Bacchus; and, what is extremely singular, it is in the 
midst of a rapid river. The approach to it is over a 
bridge of rocks; and there is a natural grotto under the 
rocks, which gives them the appearance of a rustic 
bridge. Into this grotto the sun's rays never penetrate. 
I am confident that it much resembles the place where 
Cicero sometimes went to declaim. It invites to study. 
Hither I retreat during noontide hours; my mornings are 
engaged upon the hills, or in the garden sacred to Apollo. 
Here I would most willingly spend my days, were I not 
too near Avignon, and too far from Italy. For why 
should I conceal this weakness of my soul? I love Italy, 
and hate Avignon. The pestilential influence of this 
horrid place empoisons the pure air of Vaucluse, and 
will eventually compel me to quit my retirement. 



234 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



"babe at home a year old. In another year, this first babe 
became " the other baby/' and was put on a bottle with 
its little pug-nose out of joint* There was always one on 
bread and milk, one on the bottle and one with nose 
under the shawl and all the time the sonnets came 
fluttering adown the summer winds, 
Laura was a cool-headed woman, shrewd and astute, 
with heart under perfect control her feelings well 
upholstered by adipose. If she had been more of the 
woman she would have been less. Like the genuine 
coquette that she was, she received everything and gave 
nothing. She had a good digestion and no nerves to 
speak of. 

Petrarch describes her in a thousand ways, but the 
picture is so retouched that the portrait is not clear or 
vivid. He dilates on her mental, moral, spiritual and 
physical qualities, according to his mood, and the 
flattery to her was never too fulsome. Possibly she was 
not fully aware before that she was such a paragon of 
virtue, but believing in the superior insight of Petrarch 
she said, " It must be so/' Thus is flattery always 
acceptable, nor can it be overdone unless it be laid 
on with a trowel. 

To flatter in rhythm and rhyme, with due regard for 
euphony and cadence, is always safe, and is totally 
different from bursting out upon a defenseless woman 
with buckets of adoration. 

Laura evidently knew by intuition that her success in 
236 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



holding the love of Petrarch lay in never allowing him 
to come close enough to be disillusioned. She kept him 
at a distance and allowed him to do the dialogue. All 
she desired was to perform a solo upon his imagination. 
flf Clothes play a most important part in Cupid's 
pranks. Though the little god himself goes naked, he 
never allows his votaries to follow suit. That story of 
Venus unadorned appearing from the sea is only a fairy- 
tale such a sight would have made a lovelorn swain 
take to the woods, and would have been interesting 
only to the anatomist or a member of the life class. The 
wicket, the lattice, the lace curtain, the veil and man- 
tilla, are all secondary sexual manifestations. In rural 
districts where honesty still prevails, the girls crochet a 
creation which they call a " fascinator," and I can 
summon witnesses to prove it is one. 
Just why coquetry should be regarded as distinctly 
feminine I can not say. Laura has been severely criti- 
cized by certain puritan ladies with cold pedals, for 
luring Petrarch on in his hopeless passion. Yet he knew 
her condition of life, and being a man of sense in most 
ways he must have known that had she allowed his 
passion to follow its unobstructed course it would have 
wrecked the lives of both. He was a priest and was for- 
bidden to marry; and while he could carry on an 
intrigue with a woman of inferior station and society 
would wink in innocency, it was different with a woman 
of quality his very life might have paid the penalty, 

237 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



and she would have been hoisted high by the social 
petard 5S 58 

Petrarch was no fool he probably had enough confi- 
dence in Laura to know that she would play the part. 
I know a successful businessman in Saint Louis, an 
owner of monopolies, on the profits of which he plays 
at being a Socialist. This man knows that if he could 
succeed in bringing about the things he advocates it 
would work his ruin. 

He elocutes to the gallery of his cosmic self, for the ego 
is a multi-masked rascal and plays I-Spy and leap- 
frog with himself the livelong day. 
Had the love of Petrarch and Laura ever gone to the 
point of executive session, he would straightway have 
ceased to write about it, and literature would have been 
the loser. 

It is not likely that either Petrarch or Laura reasoned 
things out thus far we are all puppets upon the chess- 
board of Time, moved by the gods of Fate, and the fact 
that we know it proved for William Ellery Channing 
the soul of man. I am both the spectator and the play. 



238 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 




]AURA died In her fortieth year of "the 
plague." Seven months after her death her 
husband paid her memory the compliment of 
taking a second wife, thus leaving us to 
assume that the first venture was a happy one, other- 
wise he would not have been in such haste to repeat it. 
fl[ The second wife of Hugh de Sade never stirred the 
pool of ink from which Petrarch fished his murex up. 
He refers to this second wife once by indirection, thus: 
** The children of Laura are no longer motherless/* 
On the death of Laura the poet was overwhelmed with 
grief. But this paroxysm of pain soon gave way to a 
calm reflection, and he realized that she was still his as 
much as she ever was. Her death, too, stopped all 
flavor of scandal that was in the bond, and thus 
Petrarch stood better in the eyes of the world and in his 
own eyes than he did when gossip was imminent. 
Petrarch expected to be immortalized by his epic poem 
"Africa," but it is not read today, even by scholars, 
except in fragments to see how deep are the barren 
sands of his thought. 

The sonnets which he calls " fragments, written in the 
vulgar tongue," the Italian, are verses which have made 
him live. They are human documents inspired by the 
living, throbbing heart, and are vital in their feeling and 
expression. His " best " poems are fifteen times as 
voluminous as his love-poems; they were written in 
Latin and polished and corrected until the life was 

239 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



sandpapered out of them, f His love for Laura was an 
idyllic thing as artificial as a monk's life, and no more 
virtuous. It belongs to a romantic age where excess was 
atoned for by asceticism, and spasms of vice galled the 
kibe of negative virtue. 

This love for Laura was largely a lust for the muse 53 
Fame was the god of Petrarch, and to this god he was 
forever faithful He toiled unremittingly, slavishly, 
painfully, cruelly for fame and he was rewarded, so 
far as fame can reward. 

At Rome, on Easter Sunday in April, Thirteen Hundred 
Forty-one, with great ceremony, Petrarch was crowned 
with the laurel-wreath, reviving the ancient custom of 
thus honoring poets. Petrarch had been working hard 
to have this distinction shown him at Paris as well as at 
Rome, and the favorable response to his request at both 
places arrived on the same day. His heart longed for 
Rome S3 S3 

All his life he worked both wisely, and otherwise, for the 
Holy See to be removed to that city of his dreams. 
Paris was second choice. 

Petrarch had been cramming for exams for many 
months, and when he set out on his journey in February 
his heart beat high. He stopped at Naples to be examined 
by the aged King Robert as to his merit for the honor 
of the laurel, and " for three days I shook all my igno- 
rance/* is Petrarch's reference to the way he answered 
the questions asked him by the scholars of his time 53 
240 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



The King wanted to go on to Rome to the coronation, 
but he was too feeble in strength to do this, so he placed 
his own royal robe upon the young man and sent him to 
the ancient city of learning, where a three days' pro- 
ceeding marked an epoch in the history of learning from 
which the Renaissance began. Petrarch closed the 
Preraphaelite period in letters. 

While there is much in Petrarch's character that is vain 
and self-conscious, it must not be forgotten that there 
was also much that was true, tender, noble and excellent. 
<I Petrarch was the founder of Humanism. He is the 
first man of modern times to make us realize that 
Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Quintilian and Seneca were real 
and actual men men like ourselves. Before his time the 
entire classic world stood to us in the same light that the 
Bible characters did to most so-called educated people, 
say in Eighteen Hundred Eighty-five. Even yet there 
are people who stoutly maintain that Jesus was some- 
thing different from a man, and that the relationship of 
God to Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, Elijah and Paul was 
totally different from God's attitude towards us. 
Before Petrarch's time the entire mental fabric of 
Greece and Rome for us was steeped in myth, fable and 
superstition. Petrarch raised the status of man, and over 
and over again proclaimed the divinity of all humanity. 
fl He realized his own worth, and made countless other 
men realize theirs. He wrote familiar letters to Homer, 
Sallust, Plato, Socrates and Seneca, addressing them as 

241 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



equals, and issued their replies. He showed the world 
that time is only an illusion, and that the men of Greece 
derived their life from the same source from whence ours 
is derived, and that in all respects they were men with 
like tastes, passions, aspirations and ambitions as our- 
selves 53 53 

He believed in the free, happy, spontaneous life of the 
individual; and again and again he affirms that the life 
of expression the life of activity is the only life. Our 
happiest moments are when we forget self in useful 
effort. He held that every man should sing, speak, paint 
or carve this that he might taste the joys of self- 
expression. Constantly he affirms that this expression 
of our highest and best is Paradise. He combats the idea 
of Dante that Heaven and Hell are places or localities. 
f Yet Petrarch was profoundly influenced by Dante. 
He used the same metaphors, symbols and figures. As a 
word-artist, possibly he was not the equal of Dante, 
but as a man, an educated man, sane and useful, he far 
surpasses Dante. He met princes, popes and kings as 
equals. He was at home in every phase of society; his 
creations were greater than his poems; and as a diplo- 
mat, wise, discreet, sincere, loyal to his own, he was 
almost the equal of our own Doctor Franklin. 
And always and forever he clung to his love for Laura. 
From his twenty-third year to his seventieth, he dedi- 
cated and wrote poems to Laura. 

He sings her wit, her beauty, her grace* her subtle 
242 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



insight, her spiritual worth. The book compiled after his 
death entitled, " Poems on the Life and Death of 
Laura/* forms a mine of love and allusion that served 
poets and lovers in good stead for three hundred years, 
and which has now been melted down and passed into 
the current coin of every tongue. It was his love-nature 
that made Petrarch sing, and it was his love-poems that 
make his name immortal. He expressed for us the 
undying, eternal dream of a love where the man and 
woman shall live together as one in their hopes, thoughts, 
deeds and desires; where they shall work for each other; 
live for each other; and through this blending of spirit, 
we will be able to forget the sordid present, the squalid 
here, the rankling now. By love's alchemy we will gild 
each hour and day, so it will be a time of joyous hope, 
and life will be a continual feast-day. And so through the 
desire and effort to express, we will reach the highest 
good, or paradise. 

Petrarch did not live this ideal life of love and service 
he only dreamed it. But his dream is a prophecy all 
desire is a promise. We double our joys by sharing them, 
and the life for the Other Self seems a psychological 
need. Man is only in process of creation. We have not 
traveled far; we are only just learning to walk, and so 
we sometimes stumble and fall. But mankind is moving 
toward the light, and such is our faith now in the Divine 
Intelligence that we do not believe that in our hearts 
were planted aspirations and desires that are to work 

243 



PETRARCH AND LAURA 



our undoing. The same God who created paradise 
devised the snake, and if the snake had something to do 
with driving the man and woman out of the Garden 
into a world of work, it was well. Difficulty, trial, hard- 
ship, obstacle, are all necessary factors in the evolution 
of souls. 

A man alone is only half a man he pines for his mate. 
When he reaches a certain degree of mentality he craves 
partnership. He wants to tell it to Her! When she reads 
she wants to read to Him. And when a man and a woman 
reach an altitude where they spiritualize their love* 
they are in no danger of wearing it out. 



244 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI & 
ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



N 




DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



LOVE'S LOVERS 

Some ladies love the jewels in Love's zone, 
And gold-tipped darts he hath for painless play 
In idle, scornful hours he flings away; 
And some that listen to his lute's soft tone 
Do love to vaunt the silver praise their own; 
Some prize his blindfold sight; and there be they 
Who kissed the wings which brought him yesterday 
And thank his wings today that he is flown. 

My lady only loves the heart of Love: 
Therefore Love's he?\rt, my lady, hath for thee 
His bower of unimagined flower and tree. 
There kneels he now, and all a-hungered of 
Thine eyes gray-lit in shadowing hair above, 
Seals with thy mouth his immortality. 

Dante Gabrid RosseM 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI & 
ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 




HEN an ambitious young man from 
the *' provinces " signified his inten- 
tion to Colonel Ingersoll of coming 
to Peoria and earning an honest 
livelihood, he was encouraged by 
the Bishop of Agnosticism with the 
assurance that he would find no 
competition S3 S& 
Personally, speaking for my single self, I should say 
that no man is in so dangerous a position as he who has 
no competition in well-doing. Competition is not only 
the life of trade, but of everything else. There have 
been times when I have thought that I had no competi- 
tion in truth-telling, and then to prevent complacency 
I entered into competition with myself and endeavored 
to outdo my record. 

The natural concentration of business concerns in one 
line, in one locality, suggests the many advantages that 
accrue from attrition and propinquity. Everybody is 
stirred to increased endeavor; everybody knows the 
scheme which will not work, for elimination is a great 
factor in success; the knowledge that one has is the 
acquirement of all. Strong men must match themselves 
against strong men : good wrestlers will need only good 
wrestlers. And so in a match of wit rivals outclassed go, 

247 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



unnoticed, and there is always an effort to go the 
adversary one better, f Our socialist comrades tell us 
that " emulation " is the better word, and that " compe- 
tition " will have to go. The fact is that the thing itself 
will ever remain the same what you call it matters 
little. We have, however, shifted the battle from the 
purely physical to the mental and psychic plane. But 
it is competition still, and the reason competition will 
remain is because it is beautiful, beneficent and right. 
It is the desire to excel. Lovers are always in competi- 
tion with each other to see who can love most. 
The best results are obtained where competition is the 
most free and most severe read history. The orator 
speaks and the man who rises to reply had better have 
something to say. If your studio is next door to that of 
a great painter, you had better get you to your easel, and 
quickly, too. <IThe alternating current gives power : only 
an obstructed current gives either heat or light; all good 
things require difficulty. The Mutual Admiration Society 
is largely given up to criticism. 

Wit is progressive. Cheap jokes go with cheap people; 
but when you are with those of subtle insight, who make 
close mental distinctions, you should muzzle your mood, 
if perchance you are a bumpkin. 

Conversation with good people is progressive, and pro- 
gressive inversely, usually, where only one sex is 
present. Excellent people feel the necessity of saying 
something better than has been said, otherwise silence 
^248 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



Is more becoming. He who launches a commonplace 
where high thoughts prevail is quickly labeled as one 
who is with the yesterdays that lighted fools adown their 
way to dusty death. 

Genius has always come in groups, because groups 
produce the friction that generates light. Competition 
with fools is not bad fools teach the imbecility of 
repeating their performances. A man learns from this 
one, and that;he lops off absurdity, strengthens here and 
bolsters there, until in his soul there grows up an ideal, 
which he materializes in stone or bronze, on canvas, by 
spoken word, or with the twenty-odd little symbols of 
Cadmus. <ff Greece had her group when the wit of Aris- 
tophanes sought to overtop the stately lines of ^schylus ; 
Praxiteles outdid Ictinus; and wayside words uttered 
by Socrates were to outlast them all. 
Rome had her group when all the arts sought to rival 
the silver speech of Cicero. One art never flourishes 
alone they go together, each man doing the thing he 
can do best. All the arts are really one, and this one art 
is simply Expression the expression of Mind speaking 
through its highest instrument, Man. 
Happy is the child who is born into a family where there 
is a competition of ideas, and where the recurring theme 
is truth. This problem of education is not so very much 
of a problem after all. Educated people have educated 
children, and the best recipe for educating your child 

is this: Educate yourself. 

249 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 




]HE Rossettis were educated people : each was 
educated by all and all by each. 
Individuality was never ironed out, for no 
two were alike, and between them all were 
constantly little skirmishes of wit, and any one who 
tacked a thesis on the door had to fight for it. Luther 
Burbank rightly says that children should not be taught 
religious dogma. The souls of the Rossettis were not 
water-logged by religious belief formulated by men with 
less insight and faith than they. 

In this way they were free. And so we find the father 
and the mother, blessed by exile in the cause of liberty, 
living hard, plain lives, in clean yet dingy poverty, with 
never an endeavor to " shine " in society or to pass for 
anything different than what they were, and never in 
debt a penny to the haberdasher, the dressmaker, the 
milliner or the grocer. When they had no money to buy 
a thing they wanted, they went without it. 
Just the religion of paying your way and being kind 
would be a pretty good sort of religion don't you 
think so ? 

So now, behold this little Republic of Letters, father 
and mother and four children: Maria, Christina, Dante 
Gabriel and William Michael. 

The father was a poet, musician and teacher. The 
mother was a housekeeper, adviser and critic, and 
supplied the necessary ballast of commonsense, without 
which the domestic dory would surely have turned 
250 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



turtle, f Once we hear this good mother saying, " I 
always had a passion for intellect, and my desire was 
that my husband and my children might be distinguished 
for intellect; but now I wish they had a little less intel- 
lect, so as to allow for a little more comrnonsense/* S& 
This not only proves that this mother of four very 
extraordinary and superior children had wit, but it also 
seems to show that even intellect has to be bought with 
a price 33 S& 

I have read about all that has been written concerning 
Rossetti and the Preraphaelite Brotherhood by those 
with right and license to speak* And among all those 
who have set themselves down and dipped pen in ink, 
no one that I have found has emphasized the very 
patent truth that it was a woman who evolved the 
" Preraphaelite Idea/' and first exemplified it in her life 
and housekeeping. 

It was Frances Polidora Rossetti who supplied Emerson 
that fine phrase, " Plain living and high thinking/* Of 
course, it might have been original also with Emerson, 
but probably it reached him via the Ruskin and 
Carlyle route. 

Emerson also said, "A few plain rules suffice/* but Mrs. 
Rossetti ten years before put it this way, "A few plain 
things suffice/' She had a horror of debt which her 
husband did not fully share. She preferred cleanly 
poverty and honest sparsity to luxury on credit. In her 
household she had her way. Possibly it was making a 

251 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



virtue of necessity, but she did it so sincerely and grace- 
fully that prenatally her children accepted the simplicity 
of their Preraphaelite home as its chief charm. 
Without the Rossettis the Preraphaelite Brotherhood 
would never have existed. It will be remembered that 
the first protest of the Brotherhood was directed against 
" Wilton carpets, gaudy hangings, and ornate, strange 
and peculiar furniture." 

Christina Rossetti once told William Morris that when 
she was but seven years old her mother and she con- 
gratulated themselves on the fact that all the furniture 
they had was built on straight and simple lines, that it 
might be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. They had 
no carpets, but they possessed one fine rug in the 
" other room " which was daily brought out to air and 
admire. The floors were finished in hard oil, and on the 
walls were simply the few pictures that they themselves 
produced, and the mother usually insisted on having 
only " one picture in a room at a time, so as to have 
time to study it." 

So here we get the very quintessence of the entire 
philosophy of William Morris: a philosophy which, it 
has well been said, has tinted the entire housekeeping 
world S3 S3 

In his magazine, called, somewhat ironically, ** Good 
Words/' Dickens ridiculed, reviled and berated the 
Preraphaelite Idea. Of course, Dickens didn't under- 
stand what the Rossettis were trying to express. 
252 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



He called It pagan, anti-Christian, and the glorification 
of pauperism. Dickens was born in a debtor's prison 
constructively and he leaped from squalor into fussy 
opulence. He wrote for the rabble, and he who writes 
for the rabble has a ticket to Limbus one way. The 
Rossettis made their appeal to the Elect Few. Dickens 
was sired by Wilkins Micawber and dammed by Mrs. 
Nickleby. He wallowed in the cheap and tawdry, and 
the gospel of sterling simplicity was absolutely outside 
his orbit. Dickens knew no more about art than did the 
prosperous beefeater, who, being partial to the hard 
sound of the letter, asked Rossetti for a copy of " The 
Gurm," and thus supplied the Preraphaelites a title 
they thenceforth gleefully used. 

But the abuse of Dickens had its advantages it called 
the attention of Ruskin to the little group. Ruskin 
came, he saw, and was conquered. He sent forth such a 
ringing defense of the truths for which they stood that 
the thinking people of London stopped and listened. 
And this caused Holman Hunt to say, "Alas! I fear me 
we are getting respectable." 

Ruskin's unstinted praise of this little band of artists 
was so great that he convinced even his wife of the 
truth of his view; and as we know, she fell in love with 
Millais, " the prize-taking cub/* and they were married 
and lived happily ever after. 

Ruskin and Morris were both born into rich families, 
where every luxury that wealth could buy was 

253 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



provided. Having much, they knew the worthlessness of 
things: they realized what Walter Pater has called 
** the poverty of riches." Dickens had only taken an 
imaginary correspondence course in luxury, and so 
Wilton carpets and marble mantels gave him a peace 
which religion could not lend. A Wilton carpet was to 
him a Christian prayer-rug. 

The joy of discovery was Ruskin's: he found the 
Rossettis and gave them to the world. Ruskin was a 
professor at Oxford, and in his classes were two insepa- 
rables, William Morris and Burne- Jones. They became 
infected with the simplicity virus; and when Burne- 
Jones went up to London, which is down from Oxford, 
he sought out the man who had painted " The Girlhood 
of the Virgin/* the picture Charles Dickens had 
advertised by declaring it to be " blasphemously 
idolatrous." 

Burne- Jones was so delighted with Rossetti's work 
that he insisted upon Rossetti giving him lessons; and 
then he wrote such a glowing account of the Rossettis 
to his chum, William Morris, that Morris came up to 
see for himself whether these things were true. 
Morris met the Rossettis, spent the evening at their 
home, and went back to Oxford filled with the idea of 
Utopia, and that the old world would not find rest until 
it accepted the dictum of Mrs. Rossetti, "A few plain 
things suffice." 

It was a woman who brought about the Epoch, 
254 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 




HE year Eighteen Hundred Fifty was certainly 
rich in gifts for Gabriel RossettL He was 
twenty-two, gifted, handsome, intellectual, 
the adored pet and pride of his mother and 
two sisters, and also the hero of the little art group to 
which he belonged. I am not sure but that the lavish 
love his friends had for him made him a bit smug and 
self-satisfied, for we hear of Ruskin saying, " Thank 
God he is young/* which remark means all that you can 
read into it. 

At this time Rossetti had written many poems, and at 
least one great one, " The Blessed Damozel." He had 
also painted at least one great picture, " The Girlhood 
of the Virgin/' a canvas he vainly tried to sell for forty 
pounds, and which later was to be bought by the nation 
for the tidy sum of eight hundred guineas, and now can 
not be bought for any price but which, nevertheless, 
may be seen by all, on the walls of the National Gallery. 
fl But four numbers of " The Germ ** had been printed, 
and then the venture had sunk into the realm of things 
that were, weighted with a debt of one hundred twenty 
pounds. Of the fifty-one contributions to " The Germ ff 
twenty-six had been by the Rossettis. Dante Gabriel, 
always a bit superstitious, felt sure that the gods were 
trying to turn him from literature to art, but Christina 
felt no comfort in the failure. 

Then came the championship of Ruskin, and this gave 
much courage to the little group. Doubtless none knew 

255 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



they stood for so much until they had themselves 
explained to themselves by Ruskin. 
Then best of all came Burne- Jones and Morris, adding 
their faith to the common fund and proving by cash 
purchases that their admiration was genuine. 
Rossetti' s poem, " The Blessed Damozel/* was without 
doubt inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee/* 
but with this difference, that while Rossetti carried the 
sorrow clear to Paradise, Poe was content to leave his 
sorrow on earth. 

Being a painter of pictures as well as picturing things by 
means of words, Rossetti had constantly in his mind 
spme one who might pose for the DamozeL She must be 
stately, sober, serious, tall, and possess " a wondrous 
length of limb/' Her features must be strong, indi- 
vidual, and she must have personality rather than 
beauty S& $& 

A pretty woman would, of course, never, never do. 
Where was such a model woman to be found? 
Christina wrote a beautiful sonnet about this Ideal 
Woman. Here it is: 

One face looks out from all his canvases; 
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans: 
We found her hidden just behind those screens. 
That mirror gave back all her loveliness. 
A queen in opal or in ruby dress, 
A nameless girl in freshest Summer-greens, 
A saint, an angel every canvas means 
256 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



The one same meaning, neither more nor less. 
He feeds upon her face by day and night, 
And she with true, kind eyes looks back on him, 
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light: 
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim; 
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright; 
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream. 

Dante Gabriel was becoming moody, dreamy and 
melancholy; but not quite so melancholy as he thought 
he was, since the divine joy was his of expressing his 
melancholy in art. People submerged in melancholy are 
not creative. 

Rossetti was quite sure that Nature had never made as 
lovely a woman as he could imagine, and his drawings 
almost proved it. But being a man he never gave up the 
quest S3 53 

One day, Walter Deverell, one of the Brotherhood, came 
into Rossetti's studio and proceeded to stand on his 
head and then jump over the furniture. After being 
reprimanded, and then interrogated as to reasons, he 
told what he was dying to tell that is, " I have found 
her! " Her name was Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, and she 
was an assistant to a milliner and dressmaker in Oxford 
Street. She was seventeen years old, five feet eight 
inches high, and weighed one hundred twenty pounds* 
Her hair was of a marvelous, coppery, low tone, and her 
features were those of Sappho. None of the assembled 
Brotherhood had ever seen Sappho, but they had their 

257 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



ideas about her. Whether the dressmaker's wonderful 
assistant had intellect and soul did not trouble the 
young man. Dante Gabriel, the Nestor of the group, 
twenty-two and wise, was not to be swept off his feet 
by the young and impressible enthusiasm of Deverell, 
aged nineteen. 

He sneezed and calmly continued his work at the easel, 
merely making inward note of the location of the shop 
where the " find " was located. 

Two hours later, Rossetti, perceiving himself alone, laid 
aside his brushes and palette, put on his hat, and 
walked rapidly toward Oxford Street. He located the 
shop, straggled past it, first on one side of the street, 
then on the other, and finally boldly entered on a 
fictitious errand. 

Miss Siddal was there. He stared at her; she looked at 
him in half -disdain. Suddenly his knees grew weak: he 
turned and fled. 

Deverell boldly stalked the quarry the next day in 
company with his mother, who was a customer of the 
shop. He failed to get an interview. A little later, the 
mother went back alone, and put the matter before Miss 
Siddal in a purely business light. 
Elizabeth Eleanor was from a very poor family. 
Her father was an auctioneer who had lost his voice, 
and she was glad to increase the meager pay she was 
receiving by posing for the artists. She was already a 
model, setting off bonnets and gowns, and her first idea 
258 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



was that they wanted her for fashion-plates. Mrs. 
Deverell did not disabuse her of this idea. 
And so she posed for the class at Rossetti's studio, duly 
gowned as angels are supposed to be draped and 
dressed in Paradise. 

Mrs. Deverell was present to give assurance, and all 
went well. The young woman was dignified, proud, with 
a fine but untrained mind. As to her knowledge of 
literature, she explained that she had read Tennyson's 
poems because she had found them on some sheets of 
paper that were wrapped around a pat of butter she 
had bought to take home to her mother. 
Her general mood was one of silent good-nature, 
flavored with a dash of pride, and an innocent curiosity 
to know how the picture was getting along. It has been 
said that people who talk but little are quiet either 
because they are too full for utterance, or because they 
have nothing to utter. Miss Siddal was reserved, 
because she realized that she could never talk as 
picturesquely as she could look. People who know their 
limitations are in the line of evolution. The girl was 
eager and anxious to learn, and Rossetti set about to 
educate her. In the operation he found himself loving 
her with a mad devotion. 

The other members of the Brotherhood respected this 
very frank devotion and did not enter into competition 
with it, as they surely would have done had it been 
merely admiration. They did not even make gentle fun 

259 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



O f ^ it was too serious a matter with Rossetti: it was 
to Mm a religion, and was to remain so to the day of his 
death. Within a week after their meeting, " The House 
of Life " began to find form. He wrote to her and for 
her, and always and forever she was his model. The 
color of her hair got into his brush, and her features 
were enshrined in his heart. 

He called her " Guggums " or " Gug." Occasionally, he 
showed impatience if any one by even the lifting of an 
eyebrow seemed to doubt the divinity of the Guggums. 
f There was no time for ardent wooing on his part, no 
vacillation nor coyness on hers. He loved her with an 
absorbing passion loved her for her wonderful physical 
beauty, and what she may have lacked in mind he was 
able to make good. 

And she accepted his love as if it were her due, and as 
if it had always been hers. She was not agitated under 
the burning impetus; no, she just calmly and placidly 
accepted it as a matter of course. 

It will hardly do to say that she was indifferent, but 
Burne- Jones was led by Miss Siddal's beautiful calm 
to say, " Love is never mutual one loves and the other 
consents to be loved/* 

The family of Rossetti, his mother and sisters, must 
have known how much of the ideal was in his passion. 
Mentally, Miss Siddal was not on their plane; but the 
joy of Dante Gabriel was their joy, and so they never 
opposed the inevitable. He, however, acknowledged 
260 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



Christina's mental superiority by somewhat imperiously 
demanding that Christina should converse with Miss 
Siddal on " great themes/' 

Ruskin has added his endorsement to Miss Siddal's 
worth by calling her " a glorious creature/* 
Dante Gabriel's own descriptions of Elizabeth Eleanor 
are too much retouched to be accurate; but William 
Rossetti, who viewed her with a critical eye, describes 
her as " tall, finely formed, with lofty neck; regular, yet 
uncommon, features; greenish-blue, unsparkling eyes; 
large, perfect eyelids; brilliant complexion, and a lavish 
wealth of dark molten-gold hair. 

In the diary of Madox Brown for October Sixth, Eight- 
teen Hundred Fifty-four, is this: "Called on Dante Ros- 
setti. Saw Miss Siddal, looking thinner and more death- 
like, and more beautiful and more ragged than ever ; a real 
artist, a woman without parallel for many a long year. 
Gabriel as usual diffuse and inconsequent in his work. 
Drawing wonderful and lovely Guggums one after 
another, each one a fresh charm, each one stamped with 
immortality, and his picture never advancing. However, 
he is at the wall and I am to get him a white calf and a 
cart to paint here; would he but study the Golden One 
a little more. Poor Gabriello! " 

In Elizabeth Eleanor's manner there was a morbid 
languor and dreaminess, put on, some said, for her lover 
like a Greek gown, and surely encouraged by him and 

pictured in his Dantesque creations* 

26! 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



Always and forever for him she was the Beata Beatrix. 
His days were consumed in writing poems to her or 
painting her, and if they were separated for a single day 
he wrote her a letter, and demanded that she should 
write one in return, to which we once hear of her gently 
demurring. She, however, took lessons in drawing, and 
often while posing would work with her pencil and 
paper S3 55 

Ruskin was so pleased with her work that he offered to 
buy everything she did, and finally a bargain was struck 
and he paid her one hundred pounds a year and took 
everything she drew. 

Possibly this does not so much prove the worth of her 
work as the generosity of Ruskin. The dressmaker's 
shop had been able to get along without its lovely model, 
and art had been the gainer. At one time a slight cloud 
appeared on the horizon: another " find " had been 
located. Rossetti saw her at the theater, ascertained her 
name and called on her the next day and asked for 
sittings. Her name was Miss Burden. She was very much 
like Miss Siddal, only her face was pale and her hair 
wavy and black. She was statuesque, picturesque, of 
good family, and had a wondrous poise. Rossetti 
straightway sent for William Morris to come and admire 
her. William Morris came, and married her in what 
Rossetti resentfully called " an unbecoming and insuf- 
ficiently short space of time/* 

For some months there was a marked coldness between 
262 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



Morris and Rossetti, but if Miss Siddal was ever 
disturbed by the advent of Miss Burden we do not know 
it. Whistler has said that it was Mrs. Morris who gave 
immortality to the Preraphaelites by supplying them 
stained-glass attitudes. She posed as Saint Michael, 
Gabriel, and Saint John the Beloved, and did service 
for the types that required a little more sturdiness than 
Miss Siddal could supply. 

The Burne- Jones dream-women are very largely com- 
posite studies of Miss Siddal and Mrs. Morris; as for 
Rossetti, he painted their portraits before he saw them, 
and loved them on sight because they looked like his 
Ideal 53 S3 



263 



DANTE G'ABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 




7 TER Dante Gabriel and Elizabeth Eleanor 
had been engaged for more than five years 
that Is, in the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty- 
five Madox Brown asked Rossetti this very 
obvious question: " Why do you not marry her? " 
One reason was that Rossetti was afraid if he married 
her he would lose her. He doted on her, 'fed on her, still 
wrote sonnets just for her, and counted the hours when 
they parted until he could see her again. Miss Siddal 
was not quite firm enough in moral and mental fiber to 
cut out her own career. She deferred constantly to her 
lover, adopted his likes and dislikes, and went partners 
with him even in his prejudices. They dwelt in Bohemia, 
which is a good place to camp, but a very poor place in 
which to settle down. 

The precarious ways of Bohemia do not make for 
length of days. Miss Siddal seemed to fall into a decline, 
her spirits lost their buoyancy, she grew nervous when 
required to pose for several hours at a time. Rossetti 
scraped together all his funds and sent her on a trip 
alone through France. She fell sick there, and we hear 
of Rossetti working like mad on a canvas, so as to sell 
the picture and send her money. 

When she returned, a good deal of her old-time beauty 
seemed to have vanished: the fine disdain, that noble 
touch of scorn, was gone and Rossetti wrote a sonnet 
declaring her more beautiful than ever. Ruskin thought 
he saw the hectic flush of death upon her cheek. 
264 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



Sorrow, love, ill-health, poverty, tamed her spirit, and 
Swinburne telling of her, years after, speaks of " her 
matchless loveliness, courage, endurance, humor and 
sweetness too dear and sacred to be profaned by any 
attempt at expression." 

Rossetti writing to Allingham says: f " It seems to me 
when I look at her working, or too ill to work, and think 
of how many without one tithe of her genius or great- 
ness of spirit have granted them abundant health and 
opportunity to labor through the little they can or will 
do, while perhaps her soul is never to bloom, nor her 
bright hair to fade; but after hardly escaping from 
degradation and corruption, all she might have been 
must sink again unprofitably in that dark house where 
she was born. How truly she may say, * No man cared 
for my soul/ I do not mean to make myself an exception, 
for how long have I known her, and not thought of this 
till so late perhaps too late." 

In Rossetti's love for this beautiful human lily there was 
something very selfish, the selfishness of the artist who 
sacrifices everything and everybody, even himself, to 
get the work done. 

Rossetti's love for Miss Siddal was sincere in its insin- 
cerity. The art impulse was supreme in him and love 
was secondary. The nine years' engagement, with the 
uncertain, vacillating, forgetful, absent-minded habits 
of erratic genius to deal with, wore out the life of this 
beautiful creature. 

265 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



The mother-instinct In her had been denied: Nature 
had been set at naught, and art enthroned. When the 
physician told Rossetti that the lovely lily was to fade 
and die, he straightway abruptly married her, swearing 
he would nurse her back to life. He then gave her the 
" home " they had so long talked of; three little rooms, 
one all hung with her own drawings and none other. He 
petted her, invited in the folks she liked best, gave little 
entertainments, and both declared that never were they 
so happy. 

She suffered much from neuralgia, and the laudanum 
taken to relieve the pain had grown into a necessity 38 
On the Tenth of February, Eighteen Hundred Sixty- 
two, she dined with her husband and Mr. Swinburne 
$ a nearby hotel. Rossetti then accompanied her to 
their home, and leaving her there went alone to give his 
weekly lecture at the Working Men's College. When he 
returned in two hours, he found her unconscious from 
an overdose of laudanum. She never regained con- 
sciousness, breathing her last but a few short hours 
later 53 3$ 



266 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 




HE grief of Rossetti on the death of his wife 
was pitiable. His friends feared for his sanity, 
and had he not been closely watched it is 
quite possible that one grave would have 
held the lovers. He reproached himself for neglecting 
her. He cursed art and literature for having seduced him 
away from her, and thus allowed her to grope her way 
alone. He prophesied what she might have been had he 
only devoted himself to her as a teacher, and by encour- 
agement allowed her soul to bloom and blossom. " I 
should have worked through her hand and brain," he 
cried S3 33 

He gathered all the poems he had written to her, 
including " The House of Life,'* and tying them up with 
one of the ribbons she had worn, placed the precious 
package by stealth in her coffin, close to the cold heart 
that had forever stopped pulsing. And so the poems 
were buried with the woman who had inspired them 33 
Was it vanity that prompted Rossetti after seven years 
to have the body exhumed and recover the poems that 
they might be given to the world? I do not think so, 
else all men who print the things they write are inspired 
by vanity. Rossetti was simply unfortunate in being 
placed before the public in amoment of spiritual undress. 
Everybody is ridiculous and preposterous every day, 
only the public does not see it, and therefore the acts 
are not ridiculous and preposterous. The conduct of the 
lovers is always absurd to the onlooker, but the onlooker 

,267 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



has no business to look on he is a false note la a 
beautiful symphony, and should be eliminated. 
Rossetti in the transport of his grief, filled with bitter 
regret, and with a welling heart for one who had done 
so much for him, gave into her keeping, as if she were 
just going on a journey, the finest of his possessions. It 
was no sacrifice the poems were hers. 
At such a time do you think a man is revolving in his 
mind business arrangements with Barabbas? 
The years passed, and Rossetti again began to write 
for God is good. 

The grief that can express itself is well diluted; in fact, 
grief often is a beneficent stimulus of the ganglionic 
cells. The sorrow that is dumb before men, and which, 
if it ever cries aloud, seeks first the sanctity of solitude, 
is the only sorrow to which Christ in pity turns his eye 
or lends his ear. 

The paroxysms of grief had given way to calm reflection. 
The river of his love was just as deep, but the current 
was not so turbulent. Expression came bringing balm 
and myrrh. And so on the advice of his friends, endorsed 
by his own promptings, the grave was opened and the 
package of poems recovered* 

It was an act that does not bear the close scrutiny of the 
unknowing mob. And I do not wonder at the fierce hate 
that sprang up in the breast of Rossetti when a hound- 
ing penny-a-liner in London sought to picture the 
stealthy, ghoul-like digging in a grave at midnight, and 
268 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



the recovery of what he called " a literary bauble." As 
if the man's vanity had gotten the better of his love, or 
as if he had changed his mind! Men who know know 
that Rossetti had not changed his mind he had only 
changed his mood. 

The suggestion that gentlemen poets about to deposit 
poems in the coffins of their ladyloves should have copies 
of the originals carefully made before so doing, was 
scandalous. However, when this was followed up with 
the idea that Rossetti should, after exhuming the poems, 
have copies made and place these back in the coffin, and 
that the performance of midnight digging was nothing 
less than petit larceny from a dead woman, witnessed by 
the Blessed Daniozel leaning over the bar of Heaven 
in all this we get an offense in literature and good taste 
which in Kentucky or Arizona would surely have cost 
the penny-a-liner his life. 

If these poems had not been recovered, the world would 
have lost '* The House of Life," a sonnet series second 
not even to the " Sonnets From the Portuguese," and 
the immortal sonnets of Shakespeare. 
The way Rossetti kept the clothing and all the little 
nothings that had once belonged to his wife revealed the 
depths of love or the foolishness of it, all depending 
upon your point of view. Mrs. Millais tells of calling at 
Rossetti's house in Cheyne Walk in Eighteen Hundred 
Seventy, nearly ten years after the death of Elizabeth 
Eleanor, and having occasion to hang her wraps in a 

269 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



wardrobe, perceived the dresses that had once belonged 
to Mrs. Rossetti hanging there on the same hooks with 
Rossetti's raiment. Rossetti made apology for the 
seeming confusion and said, " You see, if I did not find 
traces of her all over the house I should surely die/' 53 
A year after the death of his wife Rossetti painted the 
wonderful " Beata Beatrix/* a portrait of Beatrice 
sitting in a balcony overlooking Florence. The beautiful 
eyes filled with ache, dream and expectation are closed 
as if in a transport of calm delight. An hourglass is at 
hand and a dove is just dropping a poppy, the flower of 
sleep and death, into her open hands. Of course the 
picture is a portrait of the dear, dead wife, and so in all 
the pictures thereafter painted by Dante Gabriel for 
the twenty years that he lived, you perceive that while 
he had various models, in them all he traced resem- 
blances to this first, last and only passion of his life. 



270 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 




j|N William Sharp's fine little book, "A Record 
and a Study/' I find this: 

As to the personality of Dante Gabriel Ros- 
setti, a great deal has been written since his 
death, and it is now widely known that he was a man 
who exercised an almost irresistible charm over those 
with whom he was brought in contact. His manner could 
be peculiarly winning, especially with those much younger 
than himself, and his voice was alike notable for its sono- 
rous beauty and for the magnetic quality that made the 
ear alert when the speaker was engaged in conversation, 
recitation or reading. I have heard him read, some of 
them over and over again, all the poems in the " Ballads 
and Sonnets," and especially in such productions as 
" The Cloud Confines " was his voice as stirring as a 
trumpet-note; but where he excelled was in some of the 
pathetic portions of " The Vita Nuova " or the terrible 
and sonorous passages of " L' Inferno," when the music 
of the Italian language found full expression indeed. 
His conversational powers I am unable adequately to 
describe, for during the four or five years of my intimacy 
with him he suffered too much to be a brilliant talker, 
but again and again I have seen instances of that 
marvelous gift that made him at one time a Sydney 
Smith in wit and a Coleridge in eloquence. 
In appearance he was, if anything, rather above middle 
height, and, especially latterly, somewhat stout; his 
forehead was of splendid proportions, recalling instanta- 
neously the Stratford bust of Shakespeare; and his gray- 
blue eyes were clear and piercing, and characterized by 
that rapid, penetrative gaze so noticeable in Emerson $& 

271 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI AND 



He seemed always to me an unmistakable Englishman* 
yet the Italian element frequently was recognizable; as 
far as his own opinion was concerned, he was wholly 
English. Possessing a thorough knowledge of French 
and Italian, he was the fortunate appreciates of many 
great works in their native tongue, and his sympathies 
in religion, as in literature, were truly catholic. To meet 
him even once was to be the better for it ever after; 
those who obtained his friendship can not well say all 
it meant and means to them; but they know they are 
not again in the least likely to meet with such another 
as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 

In Walter Hamilton's book, "^^sthetic England/' is 
this bit of most vivid prose: 

Naturally the sale of Rossetti's effects attracted a large 
number of persons to the gloomy, old-fashioned resi- 
dence in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and many of the articles 
sold went for prices very far in excess of their intrinsic 
value, the total sum realized being over three thousand 
pounds. But during the sale of the books, on that fine 
July afternoon, in the dingy study hung round with the 
lovely but melancholy faces of Proserpine and Pandora, 
despite the noise of the throng and the witticisms of the 
auctioneer, a sad feeling of desecration must have crept 
over many of those who were present at the dispersion 
of the household goods and gods of that man who so 
hated the vulgar crowd. Gazing through the open 
windows they could see the tall trees waving their 
heads in a sorrowful sort of way in the summer breeze, 
throwing their shifty shadows over the neglected grass- 
grown paths, once the haunt of the stately peacocks, 
272 



ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 



whose medieval beauty had such a strange fascination 
for Rossetti, and whose feathers are now the accepted 
favors of his apostles and admirers. And so their gaze 
would wander back again to that mysterious face upon 
the wall, that face as some say the grandest in the 
world, a lovely one in truth, with its wistful, woful, 
passionate eyes, its sweet, sad mouth with the full red 
lips; a face that seemed to say the sad old lines: 

*T is better to have loved and lost, 

Than never to have loved at all. 

And then would come the monotonous cry of the 
auctioneer to disturb the reverie, and call one back to 
the matter-of-fact world which Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 
painter and poet, has left forever Going! Going! 

Gone! 



273 



BALZAC AND 
MADAME HANSKA 




BALZAC 



A thought entered my heart, such as God sends to 
make us willing to bear our griefs. I resolved to instruct 
and raise this corner of the earth, as a teacher brings up 
a child. Do not call it benevolence; my motive was the 
need I felt to distract my mind. I wanted to spend the 
remainder of my days in some arduous enterprise 58 
The changes to be introduced into this region, which 
Nature has made so rich and man made so poor, would 
occupy my whole life; they attracted me by the very 
difficulty of bringing them about. I wished to be a friend 
to the poor, expecting nothing in return. I allowed 
myself no illusions, either as to the character of the 
country people or the obstacles which hinder those who 
attempt to ameliorate both men and things. I made no 
idyls about my poor; I took them for what they were. 

Balzac in "The Country Doctor" 



BALZAC AND 
MADAME HANSKA 




ALZAC was born in the year Seven- 
teen Hundred Ninety-nine* The 
father of Balzac, by a not unusual 
coincidence, also bore the name of 
Balzac. And yet there was only one 
Balzac. This happy father was an 
officer in the commissary depart- 
ment of Napoleon's army, and so 
never had an opportunity to win the bauble reputa- 
tion at the cannon's mouth, nor show his quality in the 
imminent deadly breach. He died through an earnest 
but futile effort, filled with the fear of failure, to so regu- 
late his physical life that repair would exactly equal 
waste, and thus live on earth forever. 
The mother of our great man was a beauty and an 
heiress. Her husband was twenty-five years her senior. 
She ever regarded herself as one robbed of her birth- 
right, and landed at high tide upon a barren and desert 
domestic isle. Honore, her first child, was born before she 
was twenty. Napoleon was at that time playing skittles 
with all Europe, and the woman whom Fate robbed of 
her romance worshiped at the shrine of the Corsican, 
because every good woman has to worship something 
or somebody. She saw Napoleon on several occasions, 
and once he kissed his hand to her when she stood in a 

277 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



balcony and he was riding through the street. And there 
their intimacy ended, a fact much regretted in print 
by her gifted son years afterward. <ff Six years of Balzac's 
life, from his sixth to his thirteenth year, were spent in 
a monastery school, a place where foiid parents were 
relieved by holy men of their parental responsibilities, 
for a consideration. 

Not once in the six years' time was the boy allowed to 
go home or to visit his parents. Once a year, at Easter, 
his mother came to see him and expressed regret at the 
backward state of his mind. 

Balzac's education was gotten in spite of his teachers, 
and by setting at naught the minute and painstaking 
plans of his mother. This mother lived her life a partial 
invalid, whimsical, querulous, religious overmuch, 
always fearing a fatal collapse; in this disappointed, for 
she finally died peacefully of old age, going to bed and 
forgetting to waken. She was long to survive her son, 
and realize his greatness only after he was gone, getting 
the facts from the daily papers, which seems to prove 
that the newspaper does have a mission. 
Possibly the admiration of Balzac's mother for the little 
Corporal had its purpose in God's great economy. In 
any event her son had some of the Corsican's charac- 
teristics S3 53 

In the big brain of Balzac there was room for many 
emotions. The man had sympathy plus, and an imagi- 
nation that could live every life, feel every pang of pain, 
278 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



know every throb of joy, die every death. In stature lie 
was short, stout, square of shoulder and deep of chest. 
He had a columnar neck and carried his head with the 
poise of a man born to command. 
The scholar's stoop and the abiding melancholy of the 
supposed man of genius were conspicuous by their 
absence. His smile was infectious, and he was always 
ready to romp and play. " He has never grown up: he 
is just a child," once said his mother in sad complaint, 
after her son had well passed his fortieth milestone SS 
The leading traits in the life of Balzac were his ability 
to abandon himself to the task in hand, his infinite 
good-nature, his capacity for frolic and fun, and his 
passion to be famous and to be loved. 
Napoleon never took things very seriously. It will be 
remembered that even at Saint Helena, when in the 
mood, he played jokes on his guards, and never forgot 
his good old habit of stopping the affairs of State to 
pinch the ears of any pretty miss, be she princess or 
chambermaid, who traveled without an escort. 
Upon a statuette of Napoleon, Balzac in his youth onc 
wrote this: " What he began with the sword I will 
finish with the pen/' 

Only once did Balzac see Napoleon, probably at that 
last review at the Carrousel, and he describes the scene 
thus in one of his novels: "At last, at last! there he was, 
surrounded with so much love, enthusiasm, devotion, 
prayer f or whom the sun had driven every cloud from 

279 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



the sky. He sat motionless on his horse, six feet in 
advance of the dazzling escort that followed him. An 
old grenadier cried: * My God, yes, it was always so 
under fire at Wagram among the dead in the Moskowa 
he was quiet as a lamb, yes, that is he ! * Napoleon rode 
that little white mare, so gentle and under such perfect 
control. Let others ride plunging chargers and waste 
their energy and the strength of their mount in pirou- 
ettes for the admiration of the bystanders Napoleon 
and his little white horse were always quiet when all 
around there was confusion. And the hand that ruled 
the Empire stroked the mane of the little white mare, 
so docile that a girl of ten would have been at home on 
her back. That is he under fire at Wagram, with shells 
bursting all around he strokes the mane of his quiet 
horse that is he! " 

And right here may be a good place to quote that other 
tribute to the Corsican, by a man who was best quali- 
fied to give it the Iron Duke Wellington: " It is very 
true that I have said that I considered Napoleon's 
presence in the field equal to forty thousand men in 
the balance/* 



280 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




]S Balzac emerged out of boyhood into man's 
estate he seemed to have just one woman 
friend, and this was his grandmother. He 
didn't seem to care for much more. With 
her he played cards, and she used to allow him to win 
small sums of money. With this money he bought 
books always books. 

He had great physical strength, but was beautifully 
awkward. The only time he ever attempted to dance he 
slipped and fell, to the great amusement of the com- 
pany. He fled without asking the dancing-master to 
refund his tuition. 

He was morbidly afraid of young women, and as fear 
and hate are one, he hated women, " because they had 
no ideas/* he said. His head was stuffed with facts, and 
his one amusement was attending the free lectures at 
the Sorbonne. Here he immersed himself with data 
about every conceivable subject, made infinite note- 
books, and sought vainly for some one with whom he 
could talk it all over. 

In the absence of a wise companion with whom he could 
converse, he undertook the education of his brother 
Henry, who was not exactly a prodigy and could not 
get along at school. Great people are teachers through 
necessity, for it is only in explaining the matter to 
another that we make it clear to ourselves. Not finding 
enough to do in teaching his brother, Balzac advertised 
to tutor boys who were backward in their studies 38 

281 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



His first response came from Madame De Berney, who 
had a boy whom the teachers could not control. 
That is the way: we buy our tickets to one place and 
Fate puts us off at another! " Put me off at Buffalo/* 
we say, and in the morning we find ourselves on the 
platform at Rochester. 

Madame De Berney was the mother of nine, and she 
was just twenty-two years older than Balzac. The son 
she wished to have tutored was weak in body and not 
strong in mind. He was in his twentieth year, within a 
year of the same age as Balzac. 

Balzac made a companion of the youth, treating him as 
an equal; and by his bubbling good-nature and eager, 
hungry desire to know, inspired his pupil with somewhat 
of his own enthusiasm. 

And in winning the pupil, of course he caught the 
sympathetic interest of the mother. No love-affair had 
ever come to Balzac women had no minds: all they 
could do was to dance! 

Madame De Berney was old enough to put Balzac at 
his ease. She it was who discovered him no De Berney, 
no Balzac. And on this point the historians and critics 
are all agreed. 

Madame De Berney was a gentle, intelligent, sympa- 
thetic and pathetic figure. She was no idle woman, 
warm on the eternal quest. She was a home-body intent 
on caring for her household. 

Her husband was many years her senior, and at the 
282 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



time Balzac appeared upon the scene, De Berney, had 
he been consistent, would have passed off; but he did 
not, for paralytics are like threatened people good 
life-insurance risks. 

A woman of forty-two is not old bless my soul! I '11 
leave it to any woman of that age. 
And Balzac at twenty was as old as he was at forty-two: 
a little more so perhaps, for as the years passed he grew 
less dogmatic and confident* At twenty we are likely to 
have full faith in our own infallibility* 
Madame De Berney was the daughter of a musician in 
the court of Marie Antoinette. In fact, the queen had 
stood as her godmother and she had grown up sur- 
rounded by material luxury and a mental wilderness, for 
be it known that members of royal households, like the 
families of millionaires, are likely to be densely ignorant, 
being hedged in, shielded, sheltered and protected 
from the actual world that educates and evolves. 
Madame De Berney had been married at the age of 
sixteen by the busy matchmakers, and her life was one 
of plain marital serfdom. Her material wants were 
supplied, but economic freedom had not been hers, for 
she was supposed to account to her husband for every 
sou. Marriage is often actual slavery, and it was such 
for Madame De Berney, until De Berney got on pretty 
good terms with locomotor ataxia and placed his foot 
on one spot when he meant to put ft on another. 
Portraits of Madame De Berney show her to be tall, 

283 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



slender, winsome, with sloping shoulders, beautiful 
neck, and black, melancholy curls drooping over her 
temples, making one think of Elizabeth Barrett Brown- 
ing. In the presence of such a woman, one would natu- 
rally lower his voice. Half-mourning was to her most 
becoming. Madame De Berney was receptive and 
sympathetic and had gotten a goodly insight into 
literature. She had positive likes and dislikes in an 
art way. There were a few books she had read and 
reread until they had become a part of her being. At 
forty-two a woman is either a drudge, a fool or a saint. 
Intellect shines out and glows then if it ever does. From 
forty to sixty should be a woman's mental harvest-time. 
Youth and youth's ambitions and desires are in abey- 
ance. If Fate has been kind she has been disillusioned, 
and if Destiny has used her for a doormat, no matter. 
The silly woman is one who has always had her own 
way, and is intent on conquest as Chronos appropriates 
her charms and gives bulk for beauty. 
The drudge is only a drudge, and her compensation lies 
in the fact that she seldom knows it. 
Madame De Berney had been disillusioned, and intel- 
lectual desire was glowing with a steady, mellow light. 
She wanted to know and to be. And shooting through 
space comes Balzac, a vagrant comet, and their orbits 
being the same, their masses unite and continue in one 
course, bowled by the Infinite. 

The leading impulse in the life of Balzac was to express l 
284 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



to tell the things he knew and the things he imagined* 
To express was the one gratification which made life 
worth living. And so he told Madame De Berney's son, 
and then Madame came into the class and he told her* 
; We talk to the sympathetic and receptive: to those who 
are masters of the fine art of listening. 
Soon the lessons were too advanced for the son to follow, 
and so Balzac told it all to Madame. She listened, 
smiled indulgently, sighed. They walked in the park 
and along country lanes and byways; the young tutor 
talked and talked, and laughed and laughed. 
Balzac's brain was teeming with ideas, a mass and 
jumble of thoughts, ideas, plans and emotions. " Write 
it out," said Madame in partial self-defense, no doubt* 
" Write it out! " 

And so Balzac began to write poetry, plays, essays, 
stories. And everything he wrote he read to her. As 
soon as he had written something he hastened to hunt 
up " La Dilecta," as he called her. 
Their minds fused in an idea they blended in thought. 
He loved her, not knowing when he began or how. His 
tumultuous nature poured itself out to her, all without 
reason S3 SS 

She became a need to him. He wrote her letters in the 
morning and at night. They dined together, walked, 
talked, rowed and read. 

She ransacked libraries for him. She sold his product to 
publishers. They collaborated in writing, but he had the 

285 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



physical strength that she had not, so he usually fished 
the story out of the ink-bottle and presented it to her. 
f He began to be sought after. Fame appeared on the 
horizon. Critics rose and thundered. Balzac defied all 
rules, walked over the grammar, defiled the well of 
classic French. He invented phrases, paraphrased 
greatness, coined words. He worked the slide, glide, the 
ellipse any way to express the thought. He forged a 
strange and wondrous style a language made up of 
all the slang of the street, combined with the termi- 
nologies of the laboratory, law, medicine and science. 
He was an ignoramus. 

But still the public read what he wrote and clamored for 
more, because the man expressed humanity he knew 
men and women. 

Balzac was the first writer to discover that every 
human life is intensely interesting; not merely the 
heroic and the romantic. 

Every life is a struggle; and the fact that the battles are 
usually bloodless, and the romance a dream, makes it 
no less real. 

Balzac proved that the extraordinary and sensational 
were not necessary to literature. And just as the dew- 
drop on the petal is a divine manifestation, and every 
blade of grass is a miracle, and the three speckled eggs 
in an English sparrow's nest constitute an immaculate 
conception, so every human life, with its hopes, aspira- 
tions, dream, defeats and successes, is a drama, joyous 
286 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



with comedy, rich in melodrama and also dark and 
somber as can be woven from the warp and woof of 
mystery and death. 

Balzac wrote a dozen books or more a year* Of course 
he quarreled with Barabbas, and lawsuits followed, where 
both sides were right and both sides were wrong. 
Balzac hadn't the time to look after business details. 
He would sign away his birthright for a month's peace, 
forgetful of the day of reckoning. He supported his 
mother and brothers and sisters, loaned money to 
everybody, borrowed from La Dilecta when the bailiffs 
got too pressing, and all the time turned out copy 
religiously. He practised the eight-hour-a-day clause, 
but worked in double shifts, from two A. M. to ten 
A, M., and then from noon until eight o'clock at night. 
Then for a month he would relax and devote himself to 
La Dilecta. She was his one friend, his confidante, his 
comrade, his mother, his sweetheart. 
No woman was ever loved more devotedly, but the 
passionate intensity of the man's nature must have 
been a sore tax at times on her time and strength. A 
younger woman could not have known his needs, nor 
ministered to him mentally. He was absorbed in his 
work and in his love, and these were to him one. 
He had won renown, for had he not called down on his 
head the attacks of the envious? His manuscripts were 
in demand. 

Balzac was thirty years of age; Madame De Berney 

287 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



was fifty-two. The un for Mm had not readied noon, 
but for her the shadows were lengthening toward the 
East. She decided that she must win he should never 
forsake her! 

He had not tired of her, nor she of him. But she knew 
that when he was forty she would be sixty: he at the 
height of his power and she an old woman. They could 
never grow old together and go down the hill of life 
hand in hand. 

So Madame De Berney with splendid heroism took the 
initiative. She told Balzac what was in her mind, all 
the time trying to be playful, as we always do when 
tragedy is tugging at our hearts. Soon she would be a 
drag upon him, and before that day came it was better 
they should separate. He declined to listen, swore she 
could not break the bond; and the scene from being 
playful became furious. Then it settled down, calmed, 
and closed as lovers' quarrels usually do and should 36 
The subject came up again the next week and with a 
like result. Finally Madame De Berney resorted to 
heroic treatment. She locked herself in her rooms, and 
gave orders to the butler that Monsieur Balzac should 
not be allowed to enter the house, and that to him she 
was not at home* 

** You shall not see me grow old and totter, my body 
wither and fail, my mind decline. We part now and part 
forever, our friendship sacred, unsullied, and at Its 
height. Good-by, Balzac, and good-by forever! " 33 
288 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



Balzac was dumb with rage, then tears came to his 
relief, and he cried as a child cries for its mother. The 
first paroxysm passed, anger took the place of grief: 
he found time to realize that perhaps there were other 
women besides La Dilecta possibly there were other 
Dilectas. She had struck a blow at his pride the 
only blow, in fact, he ever received. 
Among Balzac's various correspondents for successful 
men always get letters from sympathetic unknowns 
was one Madame Hanska, in far-off Poland, From her 
letters she seemed intelligent, witty, sympathetic. He 
would turn to her in his distress, to Madame Hanska 
where was that last letter from her? And did he 
not have her picture somewhere: let us see, let us see! 
fl And as for Madame De Berney : when she gave liberty 
to Balzac it was at the expense of her own life. " If I 
could only forget, if I could only forget! " she said. And 
so she lingered on for four years, and then sank into 
that f orgetf ulness which men call death. 



289 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




ALZAC wrote of her as " Madame Hanska/* 
and to her husband he referred as " Monsieur 
Hanski," a distinction that was made by the 
author as inference that Monsieur Hanska 
was encroaching on some one's else domain, with 
designs on the pickle-jar of another. 
The Hanskas belonged to the Russian nobility and 
lived on an immense estate in Ukraine, surrounded only 
by illiterate peasants. It was another beautiful case of 
mismating: a man of forty who had gone the pace 
marrying a girl of seventeen to educate her and reform 
himself 33 S& 

Madame Hanska must have been a beauty in her 
youth dark, dashing, positive, saucy. She had enough 
will so that she never became a drudge nor did she 
languish and fade. She was twenty-eight years old when 
she first appeared in the field of our vision twenty- 
eight, and becomingly stout. 

She had literary ambitions and had time to exercise 
them. Accidentally, a volume of Balzac's ** Scenes From 
a Private Life " had fallen in her way. She glanced at it, 
and read a little here and there; then she read it through. 
Balzac's consummate ease and indifference of style 
caught her. She wanted to write just like Balzac. She 
was not exactly a writer she only had literary eczema. 
She sat down and wrote Balzac a letter, sharply criticiz- 
ing him for his satirical views of women. 
It is a somewhat curious fact that when strangers write 
290 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



to authors, about nine times out of ten it is to find fault. 
The person who is thoroughly pleased does not take the 
trouble to say so, but the offended one sits himself down 
and takes pen in hand. However, this is not wholly 
uncomplimentary, since it proves at least two things: 
that the author is being read, and that he is making an 
impression- Said old Doctor Johnson to the aspiring 
poet, " Sir, I *U praise your book, but damn me if 1 11 
read it." 

Unread books are constantly being praised, but the 
book that is warmly denounced is making an impression. 
<I Madame Hanska in her far-off solitude had read 
" Scenes From a Private Life," paragraph by para- 
graph, and in certain places had seen her soul laid bare, 
Very naively, in her letter to Balzac, in her criticism 
she acknowledged the fact that the author had touched 
an exposed nerve, and this helped to take the sting out 
of her condemnation. She signed herself "The Stranger," 
but gave an address where to reply. 
Balzac wrote the stranger a slapdash of a letter, as he 
was always doing, and forgot the incident* 
Long letters came from Madame; they were glanced at, 
but never read. But Madame Hanska, living in exile, 
had opened up a new vein of ore for herself. She was in 
communication with a powerful, creative intellect She 
sent to a Paris bookseller an order for everything 
written by Balzac. She read, reread, marked and inter- 
lined. Balzac seemed to be writing for her. She kept a\ 

291 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



daily journal of her thoughts and jottings and this she 
sent to Balzac. 

He neglected to acknowledge the parcel, and she wrote 
begging he would insert a personal in a certain Paris 
paper, to which she was a subscriber, so she would know 
that he was alive and well. 

He complied with the unusual request, and it seemed to 
both of them as if they were getting acquainted. To the 
woman, especially, it was a half-forbidden joy: a 
clandestine correspondence with a single gentleman! It 
had all the sweet, divine flavor of a sin. So she probably 
repeated the joy by confessing it to the priest, for the 
lady was a good Catholic. Next she sent Balzac her 
miniature, and even this he did not acknowledge, being 
too busy, or too indifferent, or both. 
It was about this time that Madame De Berney 
plunged a stiletto into his pride. And the gaze of 
Balzac turned towards Poland, and he began to write 
letters to the imprisoned chatelaine, pouring out his 
soul to her. His heart was full of sorrow. To ease the 
pain he traveled for six months through Southern 
France and Italy, but care rode on the crupper. 
He was trying to forget. Occasionally, he met beautiful 
women and endeavored to become interested in them, 
and in several instances nearly succeeded. 
Madame Hanska's letters now were becoming more and 
more intimate. She described her domestic affairs, and 
itold of her hopes, ideals and plans. 
292 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



Balzac had his pockets full of these letters, and once In 
an incautious moment showed them to Madame 
Carraud, a worthy woman to whom he was paying 
transient court. Madame Carraud wrote an ardent love- 
letter to Madame Hanska, breathing the most intense 
passion, and signed Balzac's name to the missive. It was 
a very feminine practical joke. Balzac was told about 
it after the letter was mailed. He was at first furious, 
and then faint with fear. 

Madame Hanska was delighted with the letter, yet 
mystified to think that Balzac should use a secretary in 
writing a love-letter. And Balzac wrote back that he had 
written the letter with his left hand, and that was 
doubtless the reason it seemed a different penmanship. 
At one stage of their evolution, lovers are often great 
liars, but at this time Balzac was only playing at love. 
He could not forget Madame De Berney, dying there 
alone in her locked room. 

Upon every great love are stamped the words, " Not 
Transferable." Gradually, however, Balzac succeeded 
in making a partial transfer, or a transfer belief, of his 
affections. He wrote to Madame Hanska: " I tremble 
as I write you: will this be only a new bitterness? Will 
the skies for me ever again grow bright? I love you, my 
Unknown, and this strange thing is the natural effect of 
an empty and unhappy life, only filled with ideas." Si 
The man had two immense desires to be famous and 
to be loved. Madame Hanska had intellect, literary 

293 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



appreciation, Imagination, and a great capacity for 
affection. She came into Balzac's life at the psycholog- 
ical moment, and he reached out and clung to her as a 
drowning man clings to a spar. And to the end of his 
life, let it be said, never did Balzac waver in his love 
and allegiance. 



294 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




]N the Spring of Eighteen Hundred Thirty- 
three, the Hanskas arranged for a visit to 
Switzerland, with Neufchatel as the special 
place in view. To travel at that time was a 
great undertaking especially if you were rich. It is a 
great disadvantage to be rich: jewels, furniture, ser- 
vants, horses they own you, all: to take them or to 
leave them which? 

Madame Hanska wrote to Balzac saying the trip was 
under discussion. 

That it was being seriously considered. 
It had been decided upon. 

Necessarily postponed two weeks to prepare to get 
ready to go. 

The start would take place at a certain day and hour S3 
In the meantime Balzac had decided on a trip also, and 
the objective point was Neufchatel. 
Balzac had to explain it all to somebody it was just 
like a play! So he wrote to his sister. Monsieur Hanska 
was being utilized for a divine purpose, just as Destiny 
makes use of folks and treats them as chessmen upon 
the board of Time. 

Madame Hanska was exquisitely beautiful, superbly 
witty, divinely wise and enormously rich: Balzac said 
so. In their letters they had already sworn eternal 
fealty; now they were to see each other face to face. All 
this Balzac wrote to his sister, just like a sophomore S& 
The Madame had purchased millinery; Balzac banked 

295 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



on his brain and his books, f The Hanskas arrived on 
the scene of the encounter first; this was stipulated. 
The Madame was to have a full week of preparation 5$ 
Balzac came one day ahead of time a curious thing for 
him to do, as he used to explain away his failing by 
saying he was born a day late and never caught up. 
At the hotel where it was arranged he should locate was 
a letter saying he should meet his fate on the Twenty- 
sixth of September, two days later, between one and 
four in the afternoon, on the Promenade du Faubourg. 
Being a married woman she could not just say what 
hour she could get away. She would have with her a 
maid, and in her hand would be one of Balzac's novels. 
They were to meet quite casually, just as if they had 
always known each other childhood acquaintances. 
They would shake hands and then discuss the Balzacian 
novel: the maid would be dismissed; and the next day 
Balzac would call at their villa to pay his respects to 
her husband. 

But how to kill time for two days! Balzac was in a fever 
of unrest. That afternoon he strolled along the Faubourg 
looking at every passing face, intent on finding a 
beautiful woman with a Balzac novel in her hand. 
Balzac had not demanded anatomical specifications 
he had just assumed that " The Stranger " must be 
quite like Madame De Berney, only twenty years 
younger, and twenty times more beautiful. La Dilecta 
was tall and graceful: it was possible that Madame 
296 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



Hanska was scarcely as tall, or that Is to say, being 
more round and better developed, she would not appear 
so tall. 

The encounter was not scheduled for two days yet to 
come, but Balzac was looking over the ground hoping 
to get the sun to his back. When lo ! here was a lady with 
a Balzac novel in her hand, and the book held at an 
angle of sixty-two degrees. 

Balzac gasped for breath as the woman came forward 
and held out her hand. She was n't handsome, but she 
certainly was pretty, even though her nose was retrousse, 
which is French for pug. Her hair was raven-black, her 
eyes sparkling, her lips red and her complexion fresh and 
bright 53 33 

But ye gods! she was short, damnably short, and in ten 
years she would be fat, damnably fat! 
Balzac's own personal appearance never troubled him, 
save on the matter of height or, rather, the lack of it. 
His one manifestation of vanity was that he wore high 
heels 33 33 

Balzac had concealed from the stranger his lack of 
height: it made no difference to Madame De Berney. 
Why should it to the Hanska it was none of her affair, 
anyway, Mon Dieu! And now he felt as Ananias did 
when he kept back part of the price. 
Madame was evidently disappointed. Balzac was very 
careless in attire, his shirt open at the collar, and on the 
back of his head was a student's cap. He was n't a 

297 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



gentleman! Madame was laying the whip to her 
imagination, trying to be at ease, her red lips dry and 
her eyes growing bloodshot. 

The servant was dismissed it was like throwing over 
sand ballast from a balloon. Things grew less tense 38 
They looked at each other and laughed. " Let 's make 
the best of it," said Balzac. Then they kissed there 
under the trees and he held her hands. They understood 
each other. They laughed together, and all disappoint- 
ment was dissipated in the laugh. They understood 
each other. 

Balzac wrote home to his sister that night about the 
meeting, and described the promenade as " a waddle 
Du Faubourg a duck and a goose out for the air." He 
insisted, however, that Madame was very pretty, very 
wise and very rich. 

The next day Balzac called at the villa and met Mon- 
sieur Hanska, and evidently won that gentleman's 
good-will at once. Balzac made him laugh, exorcising 
his megrims. Then Balzac played cards with him and 
obligingly lost. Hanska insisted that the great author 
should come back to dinner. Balzac agreed with him 
absolutely in politics, and as token of their friendship 
Monsieur Hanska presented Monsieur Balzac a gigantic 
inkstand 33 38 

Things were moving along smoothly, when two letters 
dispatched to Madame by Balzac were placed in the 
Lands of Monsieur Hanska by a servant who evidently 
298 



BALZAC AND MADAME HARSKA 



lacked the psychic instinct. An hour later, Balzac 
appeared in person, and when frigidly shown the letters 
explained that it was all a joke that the lettters were 
literature, to be used in a book, and were sent to 
Madame for her inspection, delectation and divertise- 
ment S3 S3 

The very extravagance of the missives saved the day* 
Monsieur Hanska could not possibly believe that any 
one could love his wife in this intense fashion he never 
had. People only get love-crazy in books. 
Everybody laughed, and Monsieur Hanska ordered the 
waiter to bring in bottles of the juice of the grape, and 
all went as merry as a marriage-bell. 
Five days of paradise, and the Hanskas went one way 
and Balzac went another. He was up before daylight 
the morning they were to go, pacing the Faubourg in 
the hope of catching just one more look at the object 
of his passion. But his quest was in vain he took the 
diligence back to Paris, and duly arrived, tired and 
sore in body, but with a heart for work. Madame Hanska 
understood him was that not enough? 



299 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




FTER that first meeting in Switzerland, every 
event in Balzac's life had Madame Hanska 
in mind. The feminine intellect was an abso- 
lute necessity to him. After a hard day's work, 
he eased down to earth by writing to " The Stranger " 
a letter, playful, pathetic, philosophical: just an out- 
pouring of the heart of a tired man letters like those 
Swift wrote to Stella* He called it ** resting my head in 
your lap/ 5 

It is quite possible that there is a little picturesque 
exaggeration in these letters, and that Balzac was not 
quite so lonely all the time as he was when he wrote to 
her. He compares her with the women he meets, always 
to her advantage, of course, and in his letters he 
constantly uses extracts from her letters, with phrases 
and peculiar words which she had discovered for him. 
For instance, in one place he calls a publisher a " rosbif 
ambulant/* which phrase Madame Hanska had applied 
to a certain Englishman she once met in Saint Peters- 
burg s& $ 

The letters of Madame Hanska to Balzac were given to 
the flames by his own hand a few years before his 
death, ** being too sacred for the world"; but his 
letters to her have been preserved and published, except 
such parts as were too intimate for the public to 
appreciate properly. 

The " Droll Stories " were written and published just 
before Balzac met Madame Hanska. He was much 
300 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



troubled as to what she would think of them, and tried 
for a time to keep the book out of her hands. Finally, 
however, he decided on a grandstand play. He had one 
of the books sumptuously bound, and this volume he 
inscribed to Monsieur Hanska and sent it with a 
message to the effect that it was a book for men only, 
and it was written merely as a study of certain phases of 
human nature, and to show the progress of the French 
language 53 53 

Of course, a book written for men only is bound to be 
read by every woman who can place her pretty hands 
upon it. And so the " Droll Stories " were carefully read 
by Madame, and the explanation accepted that they 
were merely a study in antique French, and illustrated 
one chapter in " The Human Comedy." As for Monsieur 
Hanska, he, being not quite so scientific as his gifted 
wife, read the stories for a different reason, and enjoyed 
them so much that they served him as a mine from 
which he lifted his original stuff. 

The conception of " The Human Comedy," or a series 
of books that would run the entire gamut of human 
experience and picture every possible phase of human 
emotion, was the idea of Madame Hanska. In the year 
Eighteen Hundred Thirty-two she had written him: 
" No writer who has ever lived has possessed so wide a 
sympathy as you. Some picture courts and kings; others 
reveal to us beggars, peasants and those who struggle 
for bread; still others give charming views of children; 

301 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



while all men and women in love write love-stories; but 
you know every possible condition that can come to a 
human soul, and so you seem the only person who ever 
has written or could write the complete * Human 
Comedy * in which every type of man, woman or child 
who ever lived shall have his part/* 
No wonder Balzac loved Madame Hanska what 
writer would not love a woman who could place him 
on such a pedestal ! Every writer has moments when he 
doubts his power, and so this assurance from Some One 
seems a necessity to one who is to do a great and sus- 
tained work. Balzac, he of the child-mind, needed the 
constant assurance that he was going forward in the 
right direction. 

Balzac seized upon the phrase, M The Human Comedy," 
just as he seized upon anything which he could weave 
into the fabric he was constructing. And so finally came 
his formal announcement that he was to write the 
entire life of man, and picture every possible aspect of 
humanity, in a hundred books to be known as " La 
Comedie Humaine/' It was a conception as great and 
daring as the plan of Pliny to write out all human 
knowledge, or the ambition of Newton as shown in the 
" Principia," or the works of Baron von Humboldt as 
revealed in the " Cosmos," or the idea of Herbert 
Spencer as bodied forth in the/* Synthetic Philosophy." 



302 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




|LL the time Balzac was looking forward to 
when he and Madame Hanska would next 
meet, or back to the meeting that had just 
taken place. Each year, for a few short, sweet 
days, they met in Switzerland or at some appointed 
place in Italy or France. Sometimes Monsieur Hanska 
was there and sometimes not. That worthy gentleman 
always seemed to feel a certain gratification in the 
thought that his wife was so attractive to the great 
author of the " Droll Stories/* the only Balzac book he 
had really ever read. 

That he did not even guess their true relation is very 
probable; he knew that his wife was something of a 
writer, and he was satisfied when he was told that she 
was helping Balzac in his literary undertakings. That 
he was not compelled to read the joint production, and 
pass judgment on it, gave him so much pleasure that he 
never followed up the clue. 

On January Fifth, Eighteen Hundred Forty-two, 
Balzac received from Madame Hanska an envelope 
lined with ominous black: a mourning-envelope. He 
seized it with joy placed it to his lips and then pressed 
it to his heart. Monsieur Hanska was dead dead very 
dead he had vacated the preserve gone flown 
departed, dead! 

Balzac sat down and wrote a sham letter of condolence 
to the bereaved widow, and asked permission to go at 
once and console her. Had it been De Berney he would, 

303 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



have gone, but with Madame Hanska he had first to 
obtain permission. 
So he waited for her reply. 

Her answer was strangely cold: Madame was in sore 
distress children sick, peasants dissatisfied, business 
complications and so forth. 

Balzac had always supposed that Monsieur Hanska was 
the one impediment that stood in the way of the full, 
complete and divine mating. Probably Madame thought 
so, too, until the time arrived, and then she discovered 
that she had gotten used to having her lover at a dis- 
tance. She was thus able to manage him. But to live 
with him all the time ye gods, was it possible! 
The Madame had so long managed her marital craft in 
storm and stress, holding the bark steadily in the eye of 
the wind, that now the calm had come she did not know 
what to do, and Balzac in his gay-painted galley could 
not even paddle alongside. 

She begged for time to settle her affairs. In three months 
they met in Switzerland. Madame was in deep mourning, 
and Balzac, not to be outdone, had an absurdly large 
and very black band on his hat. With Madame was her 
daughter, a fine young woman of twenty, whom the 
mother always now kept close to her, for prudential 
reasons. The daughter must have been pretty good 
quality, for she called Balzac, " My Fat Papa," and 
Balzac threatens Madame that he will run away with 
the daughter if the marriage is not arranged, and quickly 
304 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



too. QBut Madame will not wed not yet she is 
afraid that marriage will dissolve her beautiful dream. 
In the meantime, she advances Balzac a large amount 
of money, several hundred thousand francs, to show her 
sincerity, and the money Balzac is to use in furnishing a 
house in Paris, where they will live as soon as they are 
married S& 38 

Balzac buys a snug little house and furnishes it with 
costly carved furniture, bronzes, rugs and old masters. 
<IHe waits patiently, or not, according to his mood, 
amid his beautiful treasures. And still Madame would 
not relinquish the sweet joys of widowhood. 
In a year Madame Hanska arrives with her daughter. 
They are delighted with the house, and remain for a 
month, when pressing business in Poland calls them 
hence. Balzac accompanies them a hundred miles, and 
then goes back home to his " Human Comedy/* 
The years pass very much as they did when Monsieur 
Hanska was alive, only they miss that gentleman, 
having nobody now but the public to bamboozle, and 
the public having properly sized up the situation has 
become very apathetic busy looking for morsels more 
highly spiced. Who in the world cares about what 
stout, middle-aged widows do, anyway! 



305 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 




1CCASIONALLY, m letters to Madame 
Hanska, Balzac referred to Madame De 
Berney. This seems to have caused Madame 
Hanska once to say, " Why do you so often 
refer to ancient history and tell me of that motherly 
body who once acted as your nurse, comparing me with 
her? " & S& 

To this Balzac replies: " I apologize for comparing you 
with Madame De Berney she was what she was, and 
you are what you are. Great souls are always individual 
Madame De Berney was a great and lofty spirit, and 
no one can ever take her place* I apologize for com- 
paring you with her/' 

Madame De Berney led Balzac ;*Madame Hanska ruled 
him. Madame Hanska was one who alternately beckoned 
and pursued. Without her Balzac could not have gone 
on. She held him true to his literary course, and without 
her he must surely have fallen a victim of arrested 
energy. She demanded a daily accounting from the mill 
of his mind. She supplied both goad and greens. 
And more than that she sapped his life-forces and robbed 
him of his red corpuscles; so that, before he was fifty, he 
was old, worn-out, undone, with an excess of lime in his 
bones 3S S& 

Literary creation makes a terrific tax on vitality. Ideas 
do not flow until the pulse goes above eighty, and this 
means the rapid breaking down of tissue. The man who 
writes two hours daily, and writes well, can not do 
306 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



much else. He is like the racehorse do not expect the 
record-breaker to pull a plow all day, and go fast heats 
in the evening. Balzac was the most tremendous worker 
in a literary way the world has ever seen. He doubtless 
made mistakes in his life's course, but the wonder is, 
that he did not make more. He was constantly absorbed 
in what Theophile Gautier has called ** the Balzac 
Universe/* looking after the characters he had created, 
seeing to it that they acted consistently, pulling the 
wires, supplying them conversation, dialogue, plot and 
counterplot, and amid all this bustle and confusion 
bringing out a perfect story. And still sanely to do the 
work of the workaday world was a miracle indeed! The 
man had the strength of Hercules, but even physical 
strength has its penalty it seduces one to over-exer- 
tion. The midnight brain is a bad thing to cultivate, 
especially when reinforced with much coffee. Balzac was 
growing stout; physical exercise was difficult. Dark 
lines were growing under his eyes. In his letters to 
Madame Hanska he tells how he is taking treatment 
from the doctor, and that he suffers from asthma and 
aneurism of the heart. 

His eyes are failing him so he can not see to write by 
lamplight S3 S3 

Madame Hanska now becomes alarmed. She thinks she 
can win him back to life. She begs him to come to 
Poland at once, and they will be married. 
Balzac at once begins the journey to the Hanska 

307 ' 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



country home. The excitement and change of scene 
evidently benefited him. Great plans were being made 
for the future. 

The wedding occurred on March Fourteenth, Eighteen 
Hundred Fifty. 

Balzac was a sick man. The couple arrived back in 
Paris, with Balzac leaning heavily on his wife's arm. 
Chaos thundered in his ears; his brain reeled with 
vertigo; dazzling lights appeared in the darkness; and 
in the sunshine he saw only confused darkness. 
Balzac died August Seventeenth, Eighteen Hundred 
Fifty, aged fifty-one, and Pere-la-Chaise tells the rest, 
f Said Victor Hugo: 

The candle scarcely illumined the magnificent Pourbus, 
the magnificent Holbein, on the walls. The bust of 
marble was like the ghost of the man who was to die. 
I asked to see Monsieur De Balzac. We crossed a 

corridor and mounted a staircase crowded with vases, 
statues and enamels. Another corridor I saw a door 
that was open. I heard a sinister noise a rough and 
loud breathing. I was in Balzac*s bedchamber. The bed 
was in the middle of the room: Balzac, supported on it, 
as best he might be, by pillows and cushions taken from 
the sofa. I saw his profile, which was like that of Napo- 
leon. An old sick-nurse and a servant of the house stood 
on either side of the bed. I lifted the counterpane and 
took the hand of Balzac. The nurse said to me, " He will 
die about dawn/* 

His death has smitten Paris. Some months ago he came 
back into France. Feeling that he was dying, he wished 
308 



BALZAC AND MADAME HANSKA 



to see again his native land as on the eve of a long 
journey, one goes to one's mother to kiss her. Some- 
times, in the presence of the dead when the dead are 
illustrious one feels, with especial distinctness, the 
heavenly destiny of that Intelligence which is called 
Man. It passes over the Earth to suffer and be purified. 



309 



FENELON AND 
MADAME GUYON 




FENELON 



Some time before the marriage of my daughter, I had 
become acquainted with the Abbe Fenelon, and the 
family into which she had entered being among his 
friends, I had the opportunity of seeing him there many 
times. We had conversations on the subject of the 
inner life, in which he offered many objections to me. 
I answered him with my usual aimplicity. He gave me 
opportunity to thoroughly explain to him my expe- 
riences. The difficulties he offered, only served to make 
clear to him the root of my sentiments; therefore no 
one has been better able to understand them than he. 
This it is which, in the sequel, has served for the founda- 
tion of the persecution raised against him, as his answers 
to the Bishop of Meaux have made known to all persons 
who have read them without prejudice, 

Autobiography of Madame Guyon 



FENELON AND 
MADAME GUYON 




HAVE been reading the "Auto- 
biography of Madame Guyon." All 
books that live are autobiographies, 
for the reason that no writer is 
interesting save as he writes about 
himself. All literature is a confes- 
sion; there is only one kind of ink, 
and it is red. Some say the auto- 
biography of Benjamin Franklin is the most interesting 
book written by an American. It surely has one mark 
of greatness indiscretion. It tells of things inconse- 
quential, irrelevant and absurd: for instance, the 
purchase of a penny-loaf by a moon-faced youth with 
outgrown trousers, who walked up Market Street, in 
the city of Philadelphia, munching his loaf, and who 
saw a girl sitting in a doorway, laughing at him. 
What has that to do with literature? Everything, for 
literature is a human document, and the fact that he of 
the moon-face got even with the girl who laughed at 
him by going back and marrying her gives us a picture 
not soon forgotten. 

Everybody is entertaining when he writes about himself, 
because he is discussing a subject in which he is vitally 
interested whether he understands the theme is 
another thing. The fact that Madame Guyon did not 

313 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



understand her theme does not detract from the interest 
in her book: it rather adds to it she is so intensely 
prejudiced. Franklin was the very king of humorists, 
and in humor Madame Guyon was a pauper. 
There is not a smile in the whole big book from cover to 
cover not a smile, save those the reader brings to bear* 
fl Madame Guyon lays bare her heart, but she does it 
by indirection. In this book she keeps her left hand well 
informed of what her right hand is doing. Her multi- 
masked ego tells things she must have known, but 
which she did n't know she knew, otherwise she would 
not have told us. We get the truth by reading between the 
lines. The miracle is that this book should have passed 
for a work of deep religious significance, and served as a 
textbook for religious novitiates for three centuries 33 
Madame Guyon was a woman of intellect, damned with 
a dower of beauty; sensitive, alert, possessing an 
impetuous nature that endeavored to find its gratifica- 
tion in religion. Born into a rich family, and marrying a 
rich man, unkind Fate gave her time for introspection, 
and her mind became morbid through lack of employ- 
ment for her hands. 

Work would have directed her emotions to a point 
where they would have been useful, but for the lack of 
which she was feverish, querulous, impulsive always 
looking for offense, and of course finding it. Her pride 
was colossal, and the fact that it found form in humility 
must have made her a sore trial to her friends. 
314 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



The confessional seems a natural need of humanity; 
however, when an introspective hypochondriac acquires 
the confessional habit, she is a pest to a good priest and 
likely to be a prey to a bad one. 

A woman in this condition of mind confesses sins she 
never committed, and she may commit sins of which 
she is unaware. 

The highly emotional, unappreciated, misunderstood 
woman, noisily bearing her cross alone, is a type well 
known to the pathologist. In modern times when she 
visits a dentist's office the doctor hastily summons his 
assistant; like unto the Prince of Pilsen, who, in the 
presence of the strenuous widow, seizes his friend con- 
vulsively and groans: " Don't leave me don't leave 
me ! I am up against it." 

This type of woman is never commonplace she is the 
victim of her qualities; and these qualities in the case of 
Madame Guyon were high ambition, great intellect, 
Impelling passion, self-reliance. Had she been less of a 
woman she would have been more. 
She thinks mostly of herself, and intense selfishness is 
apparent even in her humility. The tragedy of her life 
lay in that she had a surplus of time and a plethora of 
money, and these paved the way for introspection and 
fatty enlargement of the ego. Let her tell her own story: 

My God: Since you wish me to write a life so worthless 
and extraordinary as mine, and the omissions I made in 
the former have appeared to you too considerable to 

315 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



leave it in that state, I wish with all my heart, in order 
to obey you, to do what you desire of me. 
I was born, according to some accounts, on Easter Even, 
Thirteenth of April although my baptism was not 
until the Twenty-fourth of May in the year Sixteen 
Hundred Forty-eight, of a father and mother who made 
profession of very great piety, particularly my father, 
who had inherited it from his ancestors; for one might 
count, from a very long time, almost as many saints in 
his family as there were persons who composed it 58 
I was born, then, not at the full time, for my mother had 
such a terrible fright that she brought me into the world 
In the eighth month, when it is said to be almost impos- 
sible to live. 

I no sooner received life than I was on the point of losing 
it, and dying without baptism. 

My life was only a tissue of ills. At two and a half years, 
I was placed at the Ursulines, where I remained some 
time. Afterwards they took me away. My mother, who 
did not much love girls, neglected me and abandoned 
me too much to the care of women who neglected me 
also: yet you, O my God, protected me, for accidents 
were incessantly happening to me, occasioned by my 
extreme vivacity; I fell. A number of accidents hap- 
pened to me which I omit for brevity. 
I was then four years old, when Madame the Duchess 
of Montbason came to the Benedictines. As she had 
much friendship for my father, she asked him to place 
me in that House when she would be there, because I 
was a great diversion to her. I was always with her, for 
she much loved the exterior God had given me. I do not 
remember to have committed any considerable faults 
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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



In that house. I saw there only good examples, and as 
my natural disposition was toward good, I followed it 
when I found nobody to turn me aside from it. I loved 
to hear talk about God, to be at church, and to be 
dressed as a nun. One day I imagined that the terror 
they put me into of Hell was only to intimidate me 
because I was very bright, and I had a little archness to 
which they gave the name of cleverness. 
I wished to go to confession without saying anything to 
any one, but as I was very small, the mistress of the 
boarders carried me to confession and remained with 
me. They listened to me. She was astonished to hear 
that I first accused myself of having thoughts against 
the faith, and the confessor beginning to laugh, asked 
me what they were. I told him that I had up to now been 
in doubt about Hell: that I had imagined my mistress 
spoke to me of it only to make me good, but I no longer 
doubted. After my confession I felt an indescribable 
fervor, and even one time I experienced a desire to 
endure martyrdom. 

I can not help here noting the fault mothers commit 
who, under pretext of devotion or occupation, neglect 
to keep their daughters with them; for it is not credible 
that my mother, so virtuous as she was, would have 
thus left me, if she had thought there was any harm 
in it S3 3& 

I must also condemn those unjust preferences that 
they show for one child over another, which produce 
division and the ruin of families, while equality unites 
the hearts and entertains charity. Why can not fathers 
and mothers understand, and all persons who wish to 
guide youth, the evil they do, when they neglect the 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



guidance of the children, when they lose sight of them 
for a long time and do not employ them? 



You know, O my Love, that the fear of your chastise- 
ment has never made much impression either on my 
intellect or upon my heart. Fear of having offended you 
caused all my grief, and this was such that it seemed to 
me, though there should be neither Paradise nor Hell, 
I should always have had the same fear of displeasing 
you. You know that even after my faults your caresses 
were a thousand times more insupportable than your 
rigors, and I would have a thousand times chosen Hell 
rather than displease you. 

God, it was then not for you alone I used to behave 
well, since I ceased to do so because they no longer had 
any consideration for me. 

If I had known how to make use of the crucifying 
conduct that you maintained over me, I should have 
made good progress, and, far from going astray, that 
would have made me return to you. 

1 was jealous of my brother, for on every occasion I 
remarked the difference my mother made between him 
and me. However, he behaved always right, and I 
always wrong. My mother's servant-maids paid their 
court by caressing my brother and ill-treating me. 
f It is true I was bad, for I had fallen back into my 
former defects of telling lies and getting in a passion; 
with all these defects I nevertheless willingly gave alms, 
and I much loved the poor. I assiduously prayed to you, 
O my God, and I took pleasure in hearing you well 
spoken of. I do not doubt you will be astonished, Sir, 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



by such resistance, and by so long a course of incon- 
stancy; so many graces, so much ingratitude; but the 
sequel will astonish you still more, when you shall see 
this manner of acting grow stronger with my age, and 
that reason, far from correcting so irrational a pro- 
cedure, has served only to give more force and more 
scope to my sins. 

It seemed, O my God, that you doubled your graces as 
my ingratitude increased. There went on in me what 
goes on in the siege of towns. You were besieging my 
heart, and I thought only of defending it against your 
attacks. I put up fortifications to that miserable place, 
redoubling each day my iniquities to hinder you from 
taking it. 

When it seemed you were about to be victorious over 
this ungrateful heart, I made a cross-battery; I put up 
barriers to arrest your bounties and to hinder the course 
of your graces. It required nothing less than you to 
break them down, O my divine Love, who by your 
sacred fire were more powerful than even death, to 
which my sins have so often reduced me. 
My father, seeing that I was grown, placed me for Lent 
with the Ursulines, in order that I should have my first 
communion at Easter, when I should complete eleven 
years of age. He placed me in the hands of his daughter, 
my very dear sister, who redoubled her cares that I 
might perform this action with all possible preparation. 
I thought only, O my God, of giving myself to you 
once for all. 

I often felt the combat between my good inclinations 
and my evil habits. I even performed some penance. 
As I was almost always with my sister, and the boarders 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYOM 



of the grown class with whom I was, although I was 
very far from their age, were very reasonable, I became 
very reasonable with them. 

It was surely a murder to bring me up ill, for I had a 
natural disposition much inclined to good, and I loved 
good things* 

We subsequently came to Paris, where my vanity 
increased. Nothing was spared to bring me out. \ 
paraded a vain beauty; I thirsted to exhibit myself 
and to flaunt my pride. I wished to make myself loved 
without loving anybody. I was sought for by many 
persons who seemed good matches for me; but you, 
O my God, who would not consent to my ruin, did not 
permit things to succeed. 

My father discovered difficulties that you yourself made 
spring up for my salvation. For if I had married those 
persons, I should have been extremely exposed, and my 
vanity would have had opportunity for displaying 
itself. There was a person who sought me in marriage 
for some years, whom my father for family reasons had 
always refused. 

His manners were a little distasteful to my vanity, yet 
the fear they had I should leave the country, and the 
great wealth of this gentleman, led my father, in spite 
of all his own objections and those of my mother, to 
accept him for me. It was done without my being told, 
on the vigil of Saint Francis de Sales, on the Twenty- 
eighth of January, Sixteen Hundred Sixty-four, and 
they even made me sign the articles of marriage without 
telling me what they were. 

Although I was well pleased to be married, because I 
imagined thereby I should have full liberty, and that 
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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



I should be delivered from the ill-treatment of my 
mother, which doubtless I brought on myself by want 
of docility, you, however, O my God, had quite other 
views, and the state in which I found myself afterwards 
frustrated my hopes, as I shall hereafter tell. Although 
I was well pleased to be married, I nevertheless con- 
tinued all the time of my engagement, and even long 
after my marriage, in extreme confusion. 
I did not see my betrothed till two or three days before 
the marriage. I caused masses to be said all the time I 
was engaged, to know your will, O my God, for I desired 
to do it at least in that. Oh, goodness of my God, to 
suffer me at that time, and to permit me to pray with 
as much boldness as if I had been one of your friends! 
I who had treated you as if your greatest enemy! 
The joy at this marriage was universal in our town, 
and in this rejoicing I was the only person sad. I could 
neither laugh like the others, nor even eat, so oppressed 
was my heart. I know not the cause of my sadness; but, 
my God, it was as if a presentiment you were giving me 
of what should befall me. 

Hardly was I married when the recollection of my desire 
to be a nun came to overwhelm me. 
All those who came to compliment me the day after 
my marriage could not help rallying me because I wept 
bitterly, and I said to them, "Alas! I had once so desired 
to be a nun; why am I now married; and by what 
fatality is this happened to me ? " 
I was no sooner at home with my new husband than I 
clearly saw that it would be for me a house of sorrow. 
I was obliged to change my conduct, for their manner 
of living was very different from that in my father's 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



Eouse. My mother-in-law, who had been long time a 
widow, thought only of saving, while in my father's 
house we lived in an exceedingly noble manner. Every- 
thing was showy and everything on a liberal scale, and 
all my husband and mother-in-law called extravagance, 
and I called respectability, was observed there. 
I was very much surprised at this change, and the more 
so as my vanity would rather have increased than cut 
down expenditure. I was fifteen years of age in ray 
sixteenth year when I was married. 
My astonishment greatly increased when I saw that I 
must give up what I hadwithso much trouble acquired. At 
my father's house we had to live with much refinement, 
learn to speak correctly. All I said was there applauded 
and made much of. Here I was not listened to, except 
to be contradicted and to be blamed. If I spoke well 
they said it was to read them a lesson. If any one came 
and a subject was under discussion, while my father 
used to make me speak, here, if I wished to express my 
opinion, they said it was to dispute, and they ignomin- 
iously silenced me, and from morning to night they 
chided me. They led my husband to do the same, and 
he was only too well disposed for it. 
I should have a difficulty in writing these sort of things 
to you, which can not be done without wounding 
charity, if you had not forbidden me to omit anything, 
and if you had not thus absolutely commanded me to 
explain everything, and give all particulars. One thing 
I ask, before going further, which is, not to regard 
things from the side of the creature, for this would make 
persons appear more faulty than they were; for my 
mother-in-law was virtuous and my husband was 
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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



religious and had no vice. <I My mother-in-law con- 
ceived such a hostility to me that, in order to annoy me, 
she made me do the most humiliating things; for her 
temper was so extraordinary, from not having con- 
quered it in her youth, that she could not live with 
any one. I was thus made the victim of her tempers. 
flf Her whole occupation was continually to thwart me, 
and she inspired her son with the same sentiments. 
They insisted that persons far beneath me should take 
precedence, in order to annoy me. My mother, who was 
very sensitive on the point of honor, could not endure 
this; and when she learned it from others for I never 
said anything of it she found fault with me, thinking 
I did it from not knowing how to maintain my rank, 
that I had no spirit, and a thousand other things of 
this kind. 

I dared not tell how I was situated, but I was dying of 
vexation, and what increased it still more was the 
recollection of the persons who had sought me in mar- 
riage, the difference of their temper and their manner 
of acting, the love and esteem they had for me, and 
their gentleness and politeness: this was very hard for 
me to bear. 

My mother-in-law incessantly spoke to me dispar- 
agingly of my father and my mother, and I never went 
to see them but I had to endure this disagreeable talk 
on my return. On the other hand, my mother com- 
plained of me that she did not see me often enough 
she said I did not love her. 

What increased still more my crosses wasT that my 
mother related to my mother-in-law the trouble I had 
given her in my childhood, so that the moment I spoke 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



they reproached me with this, and told me 1 was a 
wicked character. 

My husband wished me to remain all day in the room 
of my mother-in-law, without being allowed to go to 
my own apartment; I had not therefore a moment for 
seclusion or breathing a little. 

She spoke disparagingly of me to every one, hoping 
thereby to diminish the esteem and affection each had 
for r me, so that she put insults upon me in the presence 
of the best society. She discovered the secret of extin- 
guishing the vivacity of my mind and making me 
become quite dull, so that I could no more be recognized. 
Those who had seen me before used to say: " What! is 
that the person who passed for being clever? She does 
not say two words. It is a pretty picture/* 
For crown of affliction I had a maid they had given me* 
who was quite in their interest. She kept me in sight 
like a duenna, and strangely ill-treated me. 
When I went out, the valets had orders to give an 
account of all I did. It was then that I commenced to 
eat the bread of tears. If I was at table they did things 
to me that covered me with confusion. 
I had no one with whom to share my grief. I wished to 
tell something of it to my mother, and that caused me 
so many new crosses that I resolved to have no other 
confidante of my vexations than myself. It was not 
through harshness that my husband treated me so, but 
from his hasty and violent temper; for he loved me 
even passionately. What my mother-in-law was con- 
tinually telling him irritated him. 

Such was my married life, rather that of a slave than 
of a free person. To increase my disgrace I discovered, 
324 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



four months after my marriage, that my husband was 
gouty. This disease caused me many real crosses both 
without and within. That year he twice had gout six 
weeks at a time, and it again seized him shortly after, 
much more severely. At last he became so indisposed 
that he did not leave his room, nor often even his bed, 
which he ordinarily kept many months. 
I believe that, but for his mother and that maid of 
whom I have spoken, I should have been very happy 
with him; for as to hastiness, there is hardly a man who 
has not plenty of it, and it is the duty of a reasonable 
woman to put up with it quietly without increasing it 
by sharp answers. You made use of all these things, O 
my God, for my salvation. 

I became pregnant with my first child. During this 
time I was greatly petted as far as the body went, and 
my crosses were in some degree less severe thereby. 
Cf I was so indisposed that I would have excited the 
compassion of the most indifferent. Moreover, they 
had such a great wish to have children, that they were 
very apprehensive lest I should miscarry. 
Yet towards the end they were less considerate to me, 
and once, when my mother-in-law had treated me in a 
very shocking manner, I was so malicious as to feign a 
colic in order to alarm them in my turn; because so 
anxious were they to have children, for my husband 
was the only son, and my mother-in-law was rich, could 
have heirs through him alone. 



This first confinement greatly improved my appearance, 
and in consequence made me more vain, for although I 

325 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



would not have been willing to add art to Nature, yet 
I was very complaisant to myself. 
I was glad to be looked at, and, far from avoiding 
occasions for it, I went to promenades; rarely however, 
and when I was in the streets, I took off my mask from 
vanity, and my gloves to show my hands. Could there 
be greater silliness? When I had thus been carried away, 
which happened often enough, I wept inconsolably; but 
that did not correct me. I also sometimes went to a 
ball, where I displayed my vanity in dancing. 
I did not curl my hair, or very little, I did not even put 
anything on my face, yet I was not the less vain of it; 
I very seldom looked in the looking-glass, in order not 
to encourage my vanity, and I made a practise of 
reading books of devotion, such as the " Imitation of 
Jesus Christ " and the works of Saint Francis de Sales, 
while my hair was being combed, so that as I read 
aloud the servants profited by it. Moreover, I let myself 
be dressed as they wished, remaining as they arranged 
me a thing which saves trouble and material for 
vanity 3& S3 

I do not know how things were, but people always 
admired me, and the feelings of my vanity reawakened 
in everything. If on certain days I wished to look to 
better advantage, I failed, and the more I neglected 
myself the better I looked. It was a great stone of 
stumbling for me. How many times, O my God, have I 
gone to churches less to pray to you than to be seen 
there! Other women who were jealous of me maintained 
that I painted, and said so to my confessor, who re- 
proved me for it, although I assured him to the contrary. 
f I often spoke to my own advantage, and I exalted 
326 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



myself with pride while lowering others. I sometimes 
still told lies, though I used all my effort to free myself 
from this vice. 

I never spoke to a man alone, and never took one to 
my carriage unless my husband was there. I never gave 
my hand without precaution, and I never went into the 
carriages of men. In short, there was no possible 
measure I did not observe to avoid any ground for my 
.being talked of, 



So much precaution had I, O my God! for a vain point 
of honor, and I had so little of true honor, which is, not 
to displease you. I went so far in this, and my self- 
love was so great, that if I had failed in any rule of 
politeness, I could not sleep at night. Every one wished 
to contribute to my diversion, and the outside life was 
only too agreeable for me; but as to indoors, vexation 
had so depressed my husband that each day I had to 
put up with something new, and that very often. 
Sometimes he threatened to throw the supper out of 
the window, and I told him it would be very unfair to 
me I had a good appetite. 



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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 




P will be seen, from these frank outpourings 
of the heart, that Madame Guyon was suf- 
fering from an overwrought sex-nature 33 
Steeped in superstition, hypersthenia 9 ~God to 
her was a man her lover. 

Her one thought was to do His will. God is her ideal of 
all that is strong, powerful and farseeing. In her imagina- 
tion she continually communicates with this all- 
powerful man. She calls Him " My Love," and occa- 
sionally forgetting herself addresses him as " Sir." She 
evades her husband, and deceives that worthy gentle- 
man into believing she is asleep when she is all the time 
secretly praying to God. She goes to confession in a 
kimono. She gets up at daylight to go to mass, and this 
mass to her heated imagination is a tryst, and the fact 
that she can go to mass and get back safely and find 
her husband still sleeping adds the sweets of secrecy to 
her passion. In love the illicit seems the normal. 
Her children are nothing to her, compared to this love, 
the ratio of a woman's love for her children having a 
direct relationship to the mother's love for their father. 
Madame Guyon's regard for her husband is covered by 
the word " duty/' but to deceive the man never occurs 
to her as a fault. She prides herself on being an honest 
wife 53 33 

Of course her children turn from her, because she has 
turned from them. She thinks their ingratitude is a trial 
and a cross sent to her by God, just as she regards her 
328 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



husband's gout as a calamity for herself, never seemingly 
thinking of how it affects the gentleman himself. Simple 
people might say the gout was his affair, not hers, but 
she does not view it so. In her perverted selfness, all 
things have relationship to her own ego, and so she is in 
continual trouble, like a girl whose love is being opposed 
by parents and kinsmen. 

A woman in love is the most unreasonable of all created 
things next to a man. Reason is actually beyond a 
lover's orbit. This woman has lost the focus of truth, 
and all things are out of perspective. Every object is 
twisted and distorted by the one thought that fills her 
life. Lovers are fools, but Nature makes them so. 
Here is a woman whose elective affinity is a being of her 
own creation an airy, fairy fiction of the mind. When 
a living man appears upon the scene who in degree 
approximates her ideal of gentleness, strength and 
truth, how long, think you, will the citadel of her heart 
withstand the siege? Or will it be necessary for him to 
lay siege to her heart at all ? Will she not straightway 
throw the silken net of her personality over him this 
personality she affects to despise and take him captive 
hand and foot? We shall see: 

It was after this, my husband, having some relief from 
his continual illness, wished to go to Orleans, and thence 
to Touraine. On this journey my vanity triumphed, to 
disappear forever. 

I received many visits and much applause. My God, 

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FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



how clearly I can see the folly of men, who let them- 
selves be caught by vain beauty! I hated passion, but, 
according to the external man, I could not hate that in 
me which called me into life, although, according to 
the interior man, I ardently desired to be delivered 
from it, O my God, you know how this continued com- 
bat of Nature and of Grace made me suffer. Nature was 
pleased at public approbation, and Grace made it 
feared, I felt myself torn asunder and as if separated 
from myself; for I very well felt the injury this universal 
esteem did me. What augmented it was the virtue they 
believed united with my youth and my appearance. 

my God, they did not know that all the virtue was 
in you alone, and in your protection, and all the weak- 
ness in me. 

1 told the confessors of my trouble, because I had not 
my neck entirely covered, although I was much better 
than the other women of my age. They assured me that 
I was dressed very modestly, and that there was no 
harm. My internal director told me quite the contrary, 
but I had not the strength to follow him, and to dress 
myself, at my age, in a manner that would appear 
extraordinary 53 55 

Besides, the vanity I had, furnished me with pretexts 
which appeared to me the justest possible. Oh, if con- 
fessors knew the injury they cause women by these 
soft complaisances, and the evil it produces, they would 
show a greater severity; for if I had found a single 
confessor who had told me there was harm in being as 
I was, I would not have continued in it a single moment; 
but my vanity taking the part of the confessors, made 
me think they were right and my troubles were fanciful. 
330 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



f That maid of whom I spoke became every day more 
arrogant, and as the Devil stirred her up to torment 
me, when she saw that her outcries did not annoy me, 
she thought if she could hinder me from communicating 
she would cause me the greatest of all annoyances. She 
was quite right, O Divine Spouse of pure souls, since 
the only satisfaction of my life was to receive you and 
to honor you. I suffered a species of languor when I was 
some days without receiving you. When I was unable, 
I contented myself with keeping some hours near you, 
and, in order to have liberty for it, I applied myself to 
perpetual adoration. 

This maid knew my affection for the Holy Sacrament, 
before which, when I could freely, I passed many hours 
on my knees. 

She took care to watch every day she thought I com- 
municated. She came to tell my mother-in-law and my 
husband, who wanted nothing more to get into a rage 
with me. There were reprimands which continued the 
whole day. 

If any word of justification escaped me, or any vexation 
at what they said to me, it was ground enough for their 
saying that I committed sacrilege, and crying out 
against devotion. 

If I answered nothing, that increased their bitterness. 
They said the most stinging things possible to me. If 
I fell ill, which happened often enough, they took the 
opportunity to come and wrangle with me in my bed, 
saying it was my communions and my prayers made me 
ill as if to receive you, O true Source of all good, could 
cause any ill! 

As it was with difficulty I ordinarily had any time for 

331 



FENELON ANTD MADAME GUYON 



praying, in order not to disobey my husband, who was 
unwilling I should rise from bed before seven o'clock, 
I bethought me I had only to kneel upon my bed. 
I could not go to mass without the permission of my 
husband, for we were very distant from all kind of 
churches; and as ordinarily he only allowed me on 
festivals and Sundays, I could not communicate but on 
those days, however desirous I might be for it; unless 
some priest came to a chapel, which was a quarter of a 
league from our house, and let us know of it. As the 
carriage could not be brought out from the courtyard 
without being heard, I could not elude him. I made an 
arrangement with the guardian of the Recolets, who 
was a very holy man. 

He pretended to go to say mass for somebody else, and 
sent a monk to inform me. It had to be in the early 
morning, that ray husband might not know of it, and, 
although I had trouble in walking, I went a quarter 
of a league on foot, because I dared not have the horses 
put to the carriage for fear of awaking my husband. 
O ray God, what a desire did you not give me to receive 
you! and although my weariness was extreme, all that 
was nothing to me. You performed miracles, O my 
Lord, in order to further my desires; for besides that, 
ordinarily on the days I went to hear mass, my husband 
woke later, and thus I returned before his awaking: 
how many times have I set out from the house in such 
threatening weather that the maid I took with me said 
it would be out of the question for me to go on foot, I 
should be soaked with rain. 1 answered her with my 
usual confidence, " God will assist us " ; and did I not 
arrive, O my Lord, without being wetted? No sooner 
332 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



was I in the chapel than the rain fell In torrents. The 
mass was no sooner finished than the rain ceased en- 
tirely, and gave me time to return to the house, where, 
Immediately upon my arrival* it recommenced with 
greater violence. 



The cross I felt most was to see my son revolt against 
me. I could not see him without dying In grief. When I 
was in my room with any of my friends, he was sent 
to listen to what I said; and as the child saw It pleased 
them, he invented a hundred things to go and tell them- 
What caused me the most pain was the loss of this 
child, with whom I had taken extreme trouble. If I 
surprised him in a lie, which often happened, I dared 
not reprove him. He told me, " My grandmother says 
you are a greater liar than I ! '* 



It was eight or nine months after I had the smallpox 
that Father La Combe passed by the place of my 
residence. He came to the house, bringing me a letter 
from Father La Mothe, who asked me to see him, as 
he was a friend of his. I had much hesitation whether 
I should see him, because I feared new acquaintances. 
However, the fear of offending Father La Mothe led 
me to do it. This conversation, which was short, made 
him desire to see me once more. I felt the same wish 
on my side; for I believed he loved God, and I wished 
everybody to love Him. God had already made use of 
me to win three monks. The eagerness he had to see 
me again led him to come to our country-house, which 

333 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



was only a half-league from the town. Providence made 
use of a little accident that happened, to give me the 
means of speaking to him; for as my husband, who 
greatly enjoyed his cleverness, was conversing with 
him, he felt ill, and having gone into the garden, my 
husband told me go look for him lest anything might 
have occurred. I went there. This Father said that he 
had remarked a concentration and such an extraordinary 
presence of God on my countenance, that he said to 
himself, " I have never seen a woman like that " ; and 
this was what made him desire to see me again. We 
conversed a little, and you permitted, O my God, 
that I said to him things which opened to him the way 
of the interior. God bestowed upon him so much grace, 
through this miserable channel, that he has since de- 
clared to me he went away changed into another man. 
<[ I preserved a root of esteem for him, for it appeared 
to me that he would be God's; but I was very far from 
foreseeing that I should ever go to a place where he 
would be. 



Some time after my arrival at Gex, the Bishop of 
Geneva came to see us. I spoke to him with the im- 
petuosity of the spirit that guided me. He was so con- 
vinced of the spirit of God in me that he could not 
refrain from saying so. He was even affected, and 
touched by it opened his heart to me about what God 
desired of him, and how he had been turned aside from 
fidelity and grace; for he is a good prelate, and it is the 
greatest pity in the world that he is so weak in allowing 
himself to be led by others. When I have spoken to him, 
334 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



he always entered into what I said, acknowledging that 
what I said had the character of truth; and this could 
not be otherwise, since it was the spirit of truth that 
made me speak to him, without which I was only a 
stupid creature; but as soon as the people who wished 
to rule him and could not endure any good that did not 
come from themselves, spoke to him, he allowed himself 
to be influenced against the truth. 

It is this weakness, joined to some others, which has 
hindered him from doing all the good in his diocese that 
otherwise he would have done. After I had spoken to 
him, he told me that he had it in mind to give me as 
director Father La Combe; that he was a man enlight- 
ened of God, who understood well the ways of the 
spirit, and had a singular gift for calming souls these 
are his own words that he had even told him, the 
Bishop, many things regarding himself, which he knew 
to be very true, since he felt in himself what the Father 
said to him. 

I had great joy that the Bishop of Geneva gave him to 
me as director, seeing that thereby the external author- 
ity was joined to the grace which seemed already to 
have given him to me by that union and effusion of 
supernatural grace. 

As I was very weak, I could not raise myself in bed 
without falling into a faint; and I could not remain in 
bed. The Sisters neglected me utterly, particularly the 
one in charge of the housekeeping, who did not give 
me what was necessary for my life. I had not a shilling 
to provide for myself, for I had reserved nothing, and 
the Sisters received all the money which came to me 
from France a very large sum. Thus I had the 

335 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



advantage of practising a little poverty, and being In 
want with those to whom I had given everything. 
They wrote to Father La Combe to come and take my 
confession* He very charitably walked all night, al- 
though he had eight long leagues; but he used always 
to travel so, imitating in this, as in everything else, 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 

As soon as he entered the house, without my knowing 
it, my pains were alleviated. And when he came into 
my room and blessed me, with his hands on my head, 
I was perfectly cured, and I evacuated all the water, 
so that I was able to go to the mass. The doctors were 
so surprised that they did not know how to account 
for my cure; for being Protestants, they were unable 
to recognize a miracle. They said it was madness, that 
my sickness was in the imagination, and a hundred 
absurdities, such as might be expected from people 
otherwise vexed by the knowledge that we had come to 
withdraw from error those who were willing. 
A violent cough, however, remained, and those Sisters 
of themselves told me to go to my daughter, and take 
milk for a fortnight, after which I might return. As 
soon as I set out, Father La Combe, who was returning 
and was in the same boat, said to me, " Let your cough 
cease/' 33 33 

It at once stopped, and although a furious gale came 
down upon the lake which made me vomit, I coughed 
no more at all. This storm became so violent that the 
waves were on the point of capsizing the boat. Father 
La Combe made the sign of the cross over the waves, 
and although the billows became more disturbed, they 
no longer came near, but broke more than a foot distant 
336 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



from the boat a fact noticed by the boatmen and 
those In the boat, who looked upon him as a saint* 
Thus I arrived at Thonon at the Ursulines, perfectly 
cured; so instead of adopting remedies as I had pro- 
posed, I entered on a retreat which I kept up for twelve 
days 53 53 

One of the Sisters I had brought, who was a very beau- 
tiful girl, became connected with an ecclesiastic ' who 
had authority in this place. He inspired her from the 
first with an aversion to me, judging well that, if she 
had confidence in me, I would not advise her to allow 
his frequent visits. 

She undertook a retreat. I begged her not to enter on it 
until I was there; for it was the time I was making ray 
own. This ecclesiastic was very glad to let her make it, 
in order to get entirely into her confidence, for it would 
have served as a pretext for his frequent visits. The 
Bishop of Geneva had assigned Father La Combe as 
director of our House without my asking, so that it 
came purely from God. I then begged this girl, as Father 
La Combe was to conduct the retreat, she would wait 
for him. As I was already commencing to get an influ* 
ence over her mind, she yielded to me against her own 
inclination, which was willing enough to make it under 
that ecclesiastic. I began to speak to her of prayer, and 
to cause her to offer it. Our Lord therein gave her such 
blessing that this girl, in other respects very discreet* 
gave herself to God in earnest and with all her heart* 
The retreat completed the victory. Now as she appar- 
ently recognized that to connect herself with that 
ecclesiastic was something imperfect, she was more 
reserved. This much displeased the worthy ecclesiastic* 

337 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



and embittered him against Father La Combe and me, 
and this was the source of all the persecutions that 
befell me. The noise in my room ceased when that 
commenced. This ecclesiastic, who heard confession in 
the House, no longer regarded me with a good eye. 
He began secretly to speak of me with scorn. I knew it, 
but said nothing to him, and did not for that cease 
confessing to him. There came to see him a certain 
monk who hated Father La Combe in consequence of 
his regularity. They formed an alliance, and decided 
that they must drive me out of the House, and make 
themselves masters of it. They set in motion for this 
purpose all the means they could find. The ecclesiastic, 
seeing himself supported, no longer kept any bounds. 
They said that I was stupid, that I had a silly air. They 
could judge of my mind only by my air, for I hardly 
spoke to them. This went so far that they made a 
sermon out of my confession, and it circulated through 
the whole diocese. They said that some people were so 
frightfully proud that, in place of confessing gross sins, 
they confessed only peccadillos; then they gave a 
detail, word for word, of everything I had confessed. 
*ff I am willing to believe that this worthy priest was 
accustomed only to the confessions of peasants, for the 
faults of a person in the state which I was, astonished 
him; and made him regard what were really faults in 
me, as fanciful; for otherwise assuredly he would not 
have acted in such a manner. I still accused myself, 
however, of a sin of my past life, but this did not content 
him, and I knew he made a great commotion because I 
did not accuse myself of more notable sins. I wrote to 
Father La Combe to know if I could confess past sins 
338 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



as present, in order to satisfy this worthy man. He told 
me, no, and that I should take great care not to confess 
them except as passed, and that in confession the 
utmost sincerity was needed. 

A few days after my arrival at Gex by night I saw in a 
dream (but a mysterious dream, for I perfectly well 
distinguished it) Father La Combe fixed on a cross of 
extraordinary height. He was naked in the way our 
Lord is pictured. I saw an amazing crowd who covered 
ine with confusion and cast upon me the ignominy of his 
punishment. It seemed he suffered more pain than I, 
but I more reproaches than he. This surprised me the 
more, because, having seen him only once, I could not 
imagine what it meant. But I have indeed seen it 
accomplished. At the same time I saw him thus fixed 
to the cross, these words were impressed on me: " I 
will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scat- 
tered "; and these others, " I have specially prayed for 
thee, Peter, that thy faith shall fail not Satan has 
desired to sift thee/* 

Up to that time the Bishop of Geneva had shown me 
much esteem and kindness, and therefore this man 
cleverly took him off his guard. He urged upon the 
prelate that, in order to make certain of me for that 
House, he ought to compel me to give up to it the little 
money I had reserved for myself, and to bind me by 
making me Superior. He knew well that I would never 
bind myself there, and that, my vocation being else- 
where, I could never give my capital to that House, 
where I had come only as a visitor; and that I would 
not be Superior, as I had many times already declared; 
and that even should I bind myself, it would only be 

339 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



OB the condition that this should not be* I believe, 
indeed, that this objection to be Superior was a remnant 
of the selfhood, colored with humility* The Bishop of 
Geneva did not in the least penetrate the intentions of 
that ecclesiastic, who was called in the country the 
little Bishop, because of the ascendancy he had acquired 
over the mind of the Bishop of Geneva. He thought it 
was through affection for me, and zeal for this House, 
that this man desired to bind me to it; consequently, 
he at once fell in with the proposal, resolving to carry 
it through at whatever price. 

The ecclesiastic, seeing he had so well succeeded, no 
longer kept any bonds as regarded me. He commenced 
by stopping the letters I wrote to Father La Combe. 
<I Father La Combe none the less went to Annecy* 
where he found the Bishop much prejudiced and em- 
bittered 53 52 

He said to him, " My Father, it is absolutely necessary 
to bind that lady to give what she has to the House of 
Gex, and to become the Superior/' 
" My Lord," answered Father La Combe, ** you know 
what she has herself told you of her vocation both at 
Paris and in this country, and therefore I do not believe 
she will consent to bind herself. It is not likely that, 
having given up everything in the hope of going to 
Geneva, she should bind herself elsewhere, and thus 
render it impossible for her to accomplish God's designs 
for her. She has offered to remain with these good 
Sisters as a lodger. If they desire to keep her in that 
capacity she will remain with them; if not, she is re- 
solved to withdraw into some convent until God shall 
dispose of her otherwise/' The Bishop answered, " My 
340 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



Father, I know all that, but at the same time I know 
she Is obedient, and If you so order her, she will surely 
doit." 

" It is for this reason, my lord, because she is obedient, 
that one should be extremely cautious in the commands 
one gives her/' answered the Father. 
This ecclesiastic and his friend went through all the 
places where Father La Combe had held his mission* 
to decry him and to speak against him so violently 
that a woman was afraid to say her " Pater " because, 
she said, she had learned It from him. They made a 
fearful scandal through the whole country; for the day 
after my arrival at the Ursulines of Thonon s he set out 
in the morning to preach lenten sermons at the Valley 
of Aosta. He came to say adieu to me, and at the same 
time told me he would go to Rome, and probably would 
not return, that his superiors might keep him there, 
that he was sorry to leave me in a strange country 
without help, and persecuted by every one. Did not 
that trouble me? I said to him; " My Father, I am not 
troubled at it. I use the creatures for God, and by His 
order; through His mercy I get on very well without 
them 3&3t 

I am quite content never to see you again, If such be 
His will, and to remain under persecution." 
For me, there was hardly a day passed that they 
did not put upon me new Insults, and make attacks 
quite unexpected. The New Catholics, on the report of 
the Bishop, the ecclesiastic, and the Sisters of Gex, 
stirred up against me all people of piety. I was not 
much affected by that. If I had been at all, it would 
have been because everything was thrown upon Father 

341 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



La Combe, although lie was absent; and they made use 
even of his absence, to destroy all the good he had done 
In the country by his missions and sermons, which was 
very great. The Devil gained much in this business. I 
could not, however, pity this good Father, remarking 
herein the conducting of God, who desired to annihilate 
him 53 53 

At the commencement I committed faults by a too 
great anxiety and eagerness to justify him, conceiving 
it simple justice. I did not the same for myself, for I 
did not justify myself; but our Lord made me under- 
stand I should do for the Father what I did for myself, 
and allow him to be destroyed and annihilated; for 
thereby he would derive a far greater glory than he 
had done from all his reputation. 

After Father La Combe arrived, he came to see me, 
and wrote to the Bishop to know if he approved of my 
making use of him, and confessing to him as I had done 
before. The Bishop sent me word to do so, and thus I 
did it in all possible submissiveness. 
In his absence I always confessed to the confessor of 
the House. The first thing he said to me was that all 
his lights were deceptions, and that I might return. I 
did not know why he said this. He added that he could 
not see an opening to anything, and therefore it was 
not probable God had anything for me to do in that 
country. These words were the first greeting he gave me. 
When Father La Combe proposed me to return, I 
felt some slight repugnance in the senses, which did not 
last long. The soul can not but allow herself to be led 
by obedience, not that she regards obedience as a 
virtue, but it is that she can not be otherwise, nor wish 
342 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



to do otherwise; she allows herself to be drawn along 
without knowing why or how, as a person who should 
allow himself to be carried along by the current of a 
rapid river. She can not apprehend deception, nor even 
make a reflection thereon. Formerly it was by self- 
surrender; but in her present state it is without even 
knowing or understanding what she does, like a child 
whom its mother might hold over the waves of a dis- 
turbed sea, and who fears nothing, because it neither 
sees nor knows the danger ; or like a madman who casts 
himself into the sea without fear of destroying himself* 
It is not that exactly, for to cast one's self is an " own " 
action, which here the soul is without. She finds herself 
there, and she sleeps in the vessel without dreading the 
danger. It was a long time since any means of support 
had been sent me. Untroubled and without any anxiety 
for the future, unable to fear poverty and famine, I saw 
myself stripped of everything, unprovided for and 
without papers. 

My daughter recovered her health. I must tell how this 
happened. She had smallpox and the purples. They 
brought a doctor from Geneva, who gave her up in 
despair. They made Father La Combe come in to take 
her confession; he gave her his blessing, and at the same 
instant the smallpox and the purples disappeared, and 
the fever left her. The doctor, though a Protestant, 
offered to give a certificate of miracle. 
But although my daughter was restored, my crosses 
were not lessened, owing to her bad education. The 
persecutions on the part of the New Catholics con- 
tinued, and became even more violent, without my 
ceasing on that account to do them all the good I could, 

343 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



What caused me some pain was that the mistress of my 
daughter came often to converse with me. I saw so 
much imperfection in these conversations, although 
spiritual, that I could not avoid making it known to 
her; and as this hurt her, I was weak enough to be 
pained at paining her, and to continue out of mere 
complacency things which I saw to be very Imperfect, 
<S Father La Combe introduced order In many things 
regarding my daughter; but the mistress was so hurt 
! that the friendship she had for me changed Into cool- 
ness and distance. However, she had grace, she readily 
got over it; but her natural character carried her away* 



344 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 






ATHER LA COMBE was a very great 
preacher. His style was peculiarly Ms own. 
<I Various accounts come to us of Ms power 
in swaying Ms audience. The man was tall, 
thin, ascetic and of remarkably handsome presence. 
His speech was slow, deliberate, kindly, courteous, and 
most effective. He disarmed criticism, from his first 
word. His voice was not loud nor deep, and he had that 
peculiar oratorical power which by pause and poise 
compels the audience to come to him. Madame Guyon 
relates that when he began to speak it was in a tone 
scarcely audible, and the audience leaned forward and 
listened with breathless interest. Occasionally, during 
his sermon, he would pause and kneel in silent prayer, 
and often by his pauses his very silences he would 
reach a degree of eloquence that would sway his hearers 
to tears. 

The man had intellect, great spirituality, and moreover 
was a great actor, which latter fact need not be stated 
to his discredit he used his personality to press home 
the truth he wished to impart. 

The powers at Rome, realizing Father La Combe's 
ability as a preacher, refused to allow him a regular 
parish, but employed him in moving about from place 
to place conducting retreats. We would now call him 
a traveling evangelist. Monasteries and nunneries are 
very human institutions, and quibble, strife, jealousy, 
bickering, faction and feud play an important part in 

345 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



their daily routine, flTo keep down the cliques and 
prevent disintegration, the close inspection of visiting 
prelates is necessary. Father La Combe, by his gentle, 
saintly manner, his golden speech, was everywhere a 
power for good. 

Madame Guyon came under the sway of Father La 
Combe's eloquence. She felt the deep, abiding strength 
of his character. He was the first genuine man she had 
ever met, and in degree he filled her ideal. She sought 
him in confession, and the quality of her confession 
must surely have made an impression on him. Spiritu- 
ality and sex are closely akin. Oratory and a well-sexed 
nature go together. 

Father La Combe was a man. Madame Guyon was a 
woman 3S S& 

Both were persons of high intellect, great purity of 
purpose, and sincerity of intent. But neither knew that 
piety is a by-product of sex. 

They met to discuss religious themes: she wished to 
advise with him as to her spiritual estate. He treated 
her as a daughter kissed her forehead when they 
parted, blessed her with laying on of hands. 
Their relationship became mystic, symbolic, solemn, 
and filled with a deep religious awe; she had dreams 
where Father La Combe appeared to her afterward 
she could not tell whether the dream was a vision or a 
reality. When they met in reality, she construed it into 
a dream. God was leading them, they said. They lived 
346 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



In God and in each other, if Father La Combe went 
Ms way, bidding her a tender farewell parting forever* 
In a few weeks Madame would appear at one of his 
retreats with a written consent from the Bishop. 
She followed him to his home in Gex, and then to 
Geneva. Slie entered a convent and worked as a menial 
so as to be near him. The Bishop made Father La 
Combe her official adviser, so as to lend authority to 
their relationship. 

All would have been well, had not the ardor and inten- 
sity of Madame Guyon's nature attracted the attention 
and then the jealousy of various monks and nuns. A 
woman of Madame Guyon's nature is content with 
nothing less than ownership and complete possession. 
She even went so far as to announce herself as mother- 
by-grace to Father La Combe. 

This meant that God had sanctified their relationship, 
so she was his actual mother, all brought about by a 
miracle no less peculiar and wonderful than the story 
of the bread and wine. Through this miracle of mother- 
hood she thought she must be near him always, care 
for him, " mother "* him, drudge for him, slave for 
him, share his poverty and pain. 

Such abject devotion is both beautiful and pathetic* 
That it bordered on insanity, there is no doubt. Father 
La Combe accepted the u motherhood " as sent by God, 
but later distrusted it and tried to send Madame Guyoa 
away S3 53 

347 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



She accepted this new cross as a part of her purification. 
She suffered intensely, and so did he. It was a relation- 
ship divinely human, and they were trying to prove to 
themselves and to others that -it was something else, 
for at that time peoplejdid not believe in the divinity of 
human love* 

Rumors became rife, charges were brought and proved. 
The Church is now, and always has been, very lenient 
in its treatment of erring priests. In fact, those in 
authority take the lofty ground that a priest, like a 
king, can do no wrong, and that sins of the flesh are 
impossible to one divinely anointed. And as for the 
woman, she is merely guilty of indiscretion at the 
worst S3 Si 

Madame Guyon's indiscretion took the form of religious 
ecstasy, and she claimed that the innermost living God 
was guiding her footsteps into a life of ** Pure Love," 
or constant, divine adoration. Charges of " false doc- 
trine " were brought against her, and Father La Combe 
was duly cautioned to have nothing to do with Madame 
Guyon in any way. For a time he assumed a harshness 
he did not feel, and ordered her back to her home to 
remain with her kinsmen: that he had a communication 
from God saying this was His will. 
Madame started to obey, but fell ill to the point of 
death, and Father La Combe was sent for to come and 
take her last confession and bestow the rite of extreme 
unction. He came, a miracle was performed and Madame 
348 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



got well. The relationship was too apparent to waive 
or overlook scandal filled the air. Nuns and monks 
were quitting their religious devotions to talk about it. 
<I Common, little, plain preachers might have their 
favorites, but Father La Combe and Madame Guyon 
were in the world's eye. The churchly authorities be- 
came alarmed at the influence exerted by Father La 
Combe and Madame Guyon. Their doctrine of " Quiet- 
ism/* or constant, pure love, was liable to create a schism. 
What the Church wants is fixity, security and obedi- 
ence. At that time in France the civil authorities and 
the Church worked together. The " lettre de cachet " 
was utilized, and Father La Combe was landed sud- 
denly and safely in the Bastile. We have gotten so 
used to liberty that we can hardly realize that only a 
hundred years ago, men were arrested without warrant, 
no charge having been made against them, tried in 
secret and disposed of as if they were already dead S3 
Father La Combe never regained his liberty. His mind 
reeled under his misfortunes and he died insane. 
Madame Guyon was banished to a nunnery, which was 
a bastile arranged for ladies. For two years she was 
kept under lock and key. The authorities, however, 
relaxed their severities, not realizing that she was really 
more dangerous than Father La Combe. 
Priests are apt to deal gently with beautiful women. 
From her prison Madame Guyon managed to get a 
letter to Fenelon, Bishop of Cambray. She asked for a 

349 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



hearing and that her case be passed upon by a tribunal. 
Fenelon referred the letter to Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, 
recommending that the woman be given a hearing and 
judgment rendered as to the extent of her heresy. By 
a singular fatality Bossuet appointed Fenelon as chair- 
man or chief inquisitor of the committee to investigate 
the vagaries and conduct of the Madame* 
Bossuet, himself, became interested in the woman. He 
went to see her in prison, and her beauty, her intellect, 
her devotion, appealed to him. 

Bossuet was an orator, the greatest in France at that 
time. His only rival was Fenelon, but the style and 
manner of the men were so different that they really 
played off against each other as foils, 
Bossuet was vehement, powerful what we would call 
" Western." Fenelon was suave, gentle, and won by an 
appeal to the highest and best in the hearts of his 
hearers. Father La Combe and Fenelon were very much 
alike, only Father La Combe had occupied a local 
position, while that of Fenelon was national. Fenelon 
was a diplomat, an author, an orator. 
Madame Guyon's autobiography reveals the fact that 
Bossuet was enough interested in her case to have her 
removed to a nunnery near where he lived, and there 
he often called upon her. He read to her from his own 
writings, instead of analyzing hers, which proves priests 
to be simply men at the last. Bossuet needed the 
feminine mind to bolster his own, but Madame and he 
350 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



did not mix. In her autobiography she hesitates about 
actually condemning Bossuet, but describes him as 
short and fat, so it looks as If she were human, too* 
since what repelled her were his physical characteristics. 
<I When a woman describes a man she always begins 
by telling how he looks. 

Madame Guyon says: c< The Bishop of Meaux wished 
me to change my name, so that, as he said, it should 
not be known I was in his diocese, and that people 
should not torment him on my account. The project 
was the finest in the world, if he could have kept a 
secret; but he told everybody he saw that I was in such 
a convent, under such a name. Immediately, from all 
sides, anonymous libels against me were sent to the 
Mother Superior and the nuns/* 

With Fenelon, it was very different. Her heart went out 
to him: he was the greatest man she had ever seen 
greater even than Father La Combe. 
Fenelon's first interview with Madame Guyon was 
simply in an official way, but her interest in him was 
very personal. This is evidenced from her brief, but 
very fervent, mention of the incident: 

Having been visited by the Abbe de Fenelon, I was sud- 
denly with extreme force and sweetness interested for 
him. It seemed to me our Lord united him to me very 
intimately, more so than any one else. It appeared to me 
that, as it were, a spiritual filiation took place between 
him and me. The next day, I had the opportunity 

351 



FENELON A"ND MADAME GUYON 



of seeing Mm again. 1 felt Interiorly this first inter- 
view did not satisfy him: that he did not relish 
me. I experienced a something which made me long to 
pour my heart into his; but I found nothing to corre- 
spond, and this made me suffer muck In the night I 
suffered extremely about him. 

In the morning I saw him. We remained for some time 
in silence, and the cloud cleared off a little; but it was 
not yet as I wished it. 

I suffered for eight whole days, after which I found 
myself united to him without obstacle, and from that 
time I find the union increasing in a pure and ineffable 
manner. It seems to me that my soul has a perfect 
rapport with his, and those words of David regarding 
Jonathan, that " his soul clave to that of David," 
appeared to me suitable for this union. Our Lord has 
made me understand the great designs He has for this 
person, and how dear he is to Him. 
The justice of God causes suffering from time to time 
for certain souls until their entire purification. As soon 
as they have arrived where God wishes them, one suffers 
no longer for anything for them; and the union which 
had been often covered with clouds is cleared up in such 
a manner that it becomes like a very pure atmosphere, 
penetrated everywhere, without distinction, by the 
light of the sun. As Feneion was given to me, in a more 
intimate manner than any other, what I have suffered, 
what I am suffering, and what I shall suffer for him, 
surpasses anything that can be told. The least partition 
between him and me, between him and God, is like a 
little dirt in the eye, which causes it an extreme pain, 
and which would not inconvenience any other part of 
352 



FENELON AND MADAME <GUYON 



the body where it might be put. What I suffer for him 
is very different from what I suffer for others; but I 
am unable to discover the cause, unless it be God has 
united me to him more intimately than to any other, 
and that God has greater designs for him than for the 
others 58 55 

Fenelon the ascetic, he of the subtle intellect and high 
spiritual quality, had never met a woman on an abso- 
lute equality. Madame Guyon's religious fervor dis- 
armed him. He saw her often, that he might comprehend 
the nature of her mission. 

In the official investigation that followed, he naturally 
found himself the defender of her doctrines. She was 
condemned by the court, but Fenelon put in a minority 
report of explanation. The nature of the man was to 
defend the accused person; this was evidenced by his 
defense of the Huguenots, when he lifted up his voice 
for their liberty at a time when religious liberty was 
unknown. His words might have been the words of 
Thomas Jefferson, to whom Fenelon bore a strange 
resemblance in feature. Says Fenelon: " The right to 
be wrong in matters of religious belief must be accorded, 
otherwise we produce hypocrites instead of persons with 
an enlightened belief that is fully their own. If truth 
be mighty and God all-powerful, His children need not 
fear that disaster will follow freedom of thought." 
After Madame Guyon was condemned she was allowed 
to go on suspended sentence, with a caution that silence 

353 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



was to be the price of her liberty, for before tkis she 
had attracted to herself, even in prison, congregations 
of several hundred to whom she preached, and among 
whom she distributed her writings. 
The earnest, the sincere, the spiritual Fenelon never 
suspected where this friendship was to lead. Even 
when Madame Guyon slipped into his simple, little 
household as a servant under an assumed name, he 
was inwardly guileless. This proud woman with the 
domineering personality now wore wooden shoes and 
the garb of a scullion. She scrubbed the floors, did 
laundry-work, cooked, even worked in the garden 
looking after the vegetables and the flowers, that she 
might be near him. 

Fenelon accepted this servile devotion, regarding it as 
a part of the woman's penance for sins done in the 
past. Most certainly love is blind, at least myopic, for 
Feneion of the strong and subtle mind could not see 
that service for the beloved is the highest joy, and the 
more menial the service the better, Madame sought to 
deceive herself by making her person unsightly to her 
lord, and so she wore coarse and ragged dresses, cal- 
loused her hands, and allowed the sun to tan and freckle 
her face. 

Of course then the inevitable happened: the intimacy 
slipped off into the most divine of human loves or the 
most human of divine loves, if you prefer to express 
it so. 
354 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



To prevent the scandal, the other servants were sent 
away. Nothing can be kept secret except for a day. 
A person of Madame Guyon's worth could not be lost 
or secreted. For Fenelon to defend her and then secrete 
her was unpardonable to the arrogant Bossuet. 
Fenelon had now to defend himself. How much of 
political rivalry as well as ecclesiastic has been made by 
the favor of women, who shall say! 
Of her intimate relationship with Fenelon, Madame 
Guyon says nothing. The bond was of too sacred a 
nature to discuss, and here her frankness falters, as it 
should. She does not even defend it. 
Fenelon and Madame Guyon were plotting against the 
Church and State how very natural! The Madame 
was fifty; Fenelon was forty-seven they certainly were 
old enough to know better, but they did not. 
They parted of their own accord, solemnly and in tear- 
ful prayer, for parting is such sweet sorrow. And then, 
in a few weeks, they met again to consult as to the 
future 53 35 

Soon Bossuet stepped in and induced the Vatican to 
do for them what they could not do alone. Fenelon was 
stripped of his official robes, reduced to the rank of a 
parish priest, and sent to minister to an obscure and 
stricken church in the south of France. The country 
was battle-scarred, and poverty, ignorance and want 
stalked through the streets of the little village. Here 
Fenelon lived, as did the exiled Copernicus, forbidden 

355 



FENELON AND MADAME GUYON 



to travel more than six miles from Ms church, or to 
speak to any but his own flock. Here he gave his life 
as a teacher of children, a nurse, a doctor and a spiritual 
guide to a people almost devoid of spirituality* 
Madame Guyon was sent to a nunnery, where she was 
actually a prisoner, working as a menial. Fenelon and 
Madame Guyon never met again, but once a month 
they sent each other a love-letter on spiritual themes 
in which love wrote between the lines. Time had tamed 
the passions of Madame Guyon, otherwise no convent- 
walls would have been high enough to keep her captive. 
Sweet, sad memories fed her declining days, and within 
a few weeks of her death she declared that her life had 
been a success, " for I have been loved by Fenelon* 
the greatest and most saintly man of his time/* 
And as for the Abbe Fenelon, the verdict of the world 
seems to be that he was ruined by Madame Guyon; 
but If he ever thought so, no sign of recrimination ever 
escaped his lips. 



356 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 
HELENE VON DONNIGES 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 

FERDINAND LASSALLE 

PRINCE YANKO RACOWITZA 

HERB VON DONNIGES 

KARL MARX 

DOCTOR HAENLE 

JACQUES 

HELENE VON DONNIGES 

FRATJ VON DONNIGES 

FRAU HOLTHOFF 

HILDA VON DONNIGES 

Servants, maids, butler* landlord, ladies and gentlemen* 



A wise man has said that there is a difference betweea 
fact and truth. He has also told us that things may be 
true and still not be so. The truth as to the love-story 
of Ferdinand Lassalle and Helene von Donniges can 
only be told by adhering strictly to the facts. Facts are 
not only stubborn things, but often very inconvenient; 
yet in this instance the simple facts fall easily into 
dramatic form, and the only way to tell the story seems 
to be to let it tell itself. Dramas are made up of incidents 
that have happened to somebody sometime, but in no 
instance that I ever heard of have all the situations 
pictured in a play happened to the persons who played 
the parts. The business of the playwright is selection 
and rejection, and usually the dramatic situations 
revealed have been culled from very many lives over a 
long course of years. Here the author need but reveal the 
tangled skein woven by Fate, Meddling Parents, Pride, 
Prejudice, Caprice, Ambition, Passion. In other words 
it is human nature in a tornado, and human nature is a 
vagrant ship, with a spurious chart, an uncertain com- 
pass, a drunken pilot, a mutinous crew and a crazy 
captain * 

The moral seems to be that the tragedy of existence lies 
in interposing that newly discovered thing called intel- 
lect into the delicate affairs of life, instead of having 
faith in God, and moving serenely with the eternal tide. 
fl Moses struck the rock, and the waters gushed forth; 
but if Moses had found a spring in the desert and then 
toiled mightily to smother it with a mountain of arid 
sand, I doubt me much whether the name of Moses 
358 



would now live as one of the saviors of the world & 
Parties with an eczema for management would do well 
to butt their heads three times against the wall and 
take note that the wall falls not. Then and then only 
are they safe from Megalocephaiia. There are tempta- 
tions in life that require all of one's will to succumb to ; 
and he who resists not the current of his being., nor 
attempts to dam the fountain of life for another, shall 
be crowned with bay and be fed on ambrosia in 
Elysium, 



359 



AND 
VON DONNIGES 

ACT ONE 

Seene: Parlors of Herr and Frau Holthoff at their home 
in Berlin. 

[An informal conference of the leading members of the Allied Workingmen's 

Clubs. Present various ladies and gentlemen, some seated, others standing, talking.] 

Enter DOCTOR HAENLE 

HERR HOLTHOFF. Hello, Comrade Haenle ! I am very 

glad to see you here. 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Not more glad than I am to be here. 

[They shake hands cordially, all around.] 

HERR HOLTHOFF. [To his wife] My dear, you see Doctor 
Haenle has come I win my bet ! 
DOCTOR HAENLE. I hope you two have not been gam- 
bling ! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. Yes, Doctor, we made a bet, and I am 
delighted to lose ! 

DOCTOR HAENLE. You mystify me ! 
HERR HOLTHOFF. Well, the fact is that Madame had a 
dream in which you played a part ; she thought you 
had been what is that word, my dear? 
FRAU HOLTHOFF. Expatriated. 

HERR HOLTHOFF. Yes, expatriated sent out of the 
country for the country's good. 
DOCTOR HAENLE. It would be a great compliment ! 
HERR HOLTHOFF. Very true ; you could then join our 
own Richard Wagner in Switzerland ! 

361 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



DOCTOR HAENLE. Could I but write such songs as he 
does, I would relish the fate ! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. But the people who sent him into 
exile never guessed that they were giving Mm the 
leisure to write immortal music. 
DOCTOR HAENLE. People who persecute other people 
never know what they do. 

HERB HOLTHOFF. It is n't so bad to be persecuted, but 
it is a terrible thing to persecute. 
DOCTOR HAENLE. It is often a good thing for the 
persecuted, provided he can spare the time how does 
that strike you, Herr Marx? 

KARL MARX. I fully agree in the sentiment. There seems 
to be an Eternal Spirit of Wisdom that guides man and ' 
things, and this Spirit cares only for the end. 
FEAU HOLTHOFF. Nature's solicitude is for the race, not 
the individual 
KARL MARX. Exactly so! 

HEKB HOLTHOFF. Get that in your' forthcoming book* 
Brother Marx, and give credit to the Madame. 
KARL MARX. I surely will. Most of my original thoughts 
I get from my friends. 

HERB HOLTHOFF. You may not be so grateful when the 
book is published. 

EARL MARX. You mean I may sing the Pilgrims* 
Chorus with Richard across the border? 
HERR HOLTHOFF. Yes; the government is growing very 
sensitive. 
362 



HELENE VON DONN1GES 



DOCTOR HAENLE. Which has nothing to do with the 
publication of Das Kapital eh, Herr Marx? 
KARL MARX. Not the slightest. The book will live, 
regardless of the fate of the author. 
FRAU HOLTHQFF. You do not seem very sanguine of 
immediate success of the workingmen's party! 
KARL, MARX. We will succeed when the ditches are even 
full of our dead then progress can pass. 
FRAU HOLTHOFF. And that time has not come? 
1C ART. MARX. I hope we are great enough not to deceive 
ourselves. We work for truth: whether this truth will 
be accepted by the many this year, or next, or the next 
century, we can not say, but that should not deter us 
from our best endeavors. 

HELENE VON DONNIGES. [Golden-haired., enthusiastic, 
needlessly pink and gorgeously twenty} Men fight for a 
thing and lose, and the men they fought fight for the 
same thing under another name, and win ! [All turn and 
listen} Life is in the fight, not the achievement. Oh, I 
think it would be glorious to suffer, to be misunder- 
stood, and fail; and yet know in our hearts that we were 
right absolutely right and that the wisdom of the 
ages will endorse our acts and on the tombs of some of 
us carve the word " Savior " ! 

KARL. MARX. Grand, magnificent! That sounds just like 
Lassalle. 

HELENE. There; that is the third time I have been told 
I talk just like Lassalle a person I have never seen. 

363 



FERDINAND LASSALLE 



DOCTOB HAENLE. Then you have something to live for. 
HELENE. Perhaps, but I echo no man. When one speaks 
from one's heart it is not complimentary to have people 
suavely smile and say, " Goethe/ 5 " Voltaire/ 5 " Shake- 
speare/ 5 " Rousseau/' " Lassalle "I 
FRATJ HOLTHOFF. Just see the company in which she 
places our Ferdinand! 

HELENE. [Wearily] Oh, I am not trying to compliment 
Lassalle. The fact is, I dislike the man. His literary style 
is explosive; about all he seems to do is to paraphrase 

dear Karl Marx. Besides, he is a Jew 

KARL MARX. Gently I am a Jew! 
HELENE. But you are different. Lassalle is aggressive, 
pushing, grasping he has ego plus, and [With relaxing 
tension] all I want to say is that I am aweary of being 
accused of quoting Lassalle that I do not know 

Lassalle, and what is more, I 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. Oh, you '11 talk differently when you 

see him! 

HELENE. But surely you, too, do not make genius 

exempt from the moral code? 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Oh, some one has been telling you 

about Madame Hatzf eldt 

HELENE. I know the undisputed facts. 
KARL MARX. Which are that at nineteen years of age 
Ferdinand Lassalle became the legal counsel for Madame 
Hatzfeldt; that he fought her case through the courts 
for nine years; that he lost three times and finally won* 
364 



HELENS VON DONNIGES 



HELENB. And then became a member of the Madam@*$ 

household. 

KARL MARX. If so, with the Madame's permission. 

HELENE. [Sarcastically] Certainly. 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. That thirty years' difference in their 

ages ought to absolve him. 

DOCTOR HAENLE. To say nothing of the fee he received! 

KARL MARX. The fee? 

DOCTOR HAENLE, One hundred thousand thalers. 

FRAU HOLTHOFF Capital; also, Das Kapital! 

KARL MARX. I have made a note of it. A lawyer gets a 

single fee of one hundred thousand thalers this under 

the competitive system a hundred years of labor for 

the average workingman! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. A lawyer at nineteen studying on 

one case, knowing its every aspect and phase, pursuing 

the case for nine years, and opposed by six of the ablest, 

oldest and most influential legal lights in Germany, and 

gaining a complete victory! 

KARL MARX. I Ve heard of successful authors of a 

single book, but I never before heard of a great lawyer 

with but one case! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. Oh, Lassalle has had many cases 

offered him, but he refused them all so as to devote 

himself to the People versus Entailed Nobility. 

KARL MARX. You mean Entrenched Alleged Royalty. 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. Yes. I accept the correction and 

this case he will win, just as he did the other. 

365 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



HELENE. You had better say his body will go to fill up 
the sunken roadway! 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Good ! that was your idea of success 
a few moments ago. 
HELENE. I see more of Lassalle. 
FRAU HOLTHOFF. Oh, you two were just made for each 
other! 

DOCTOR HAENLE. You both have the fire, the dash, the 
enthusiasm, the personality, the beautiful unreason- 
ableness, the 

HELENE. Go on! 

EARL MARX- He is the greatest orator in Europe! 
FRAU HOLTHOFF. And the handsomest man! 
HELENE. Nonsense! 
DOCTOR HAENLE. You shall see! 
HELENE. Shall I? 

DOCTOR HAENLE. You certainly shall. Indeed, Lassalle 
may be here this evening. He spoke in Dresden last 
night, and was to leave at once, after the address. His 
train was due let me see [consults watch] half an hour 
ago. I told him if he came to drive straight here. 
HELENE. [Slightly agitated] I must go I promised papa 
I would be home at ten. 

KARL MARX. And your papa would never allow you to 
stay out after ten, any more than he would forgive you 
if he knew you visited with people who harbored 
Ferdinand Lassalle? 

HELENE. My father is a busy man a Monarchist of 
366 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



course and he lias no time for the New Thought 
DOCTOR HAENLE. He leaves that to you? 
HELENE. Yes, he indulges me he says the New 
Thought does him. no harm and amuses me! See if my 
carriage is waiting, please. Thank you 

[Frau Holthoff starts to help Helene on with her wraps. Knocking is heard at the 
door. Herr Holthoff goes into the hall to answer knock.] 

HEKB HOLTHOFF. [Outside] Well, well, Ferdinand the 
First, Ferdinand himself! 

[Commotion all move toward door] 

Enter HERR HQLTHOFF with LASSALLE 

[Lassalle is tall, slender, nervous, active, intelligent, commanding. All shake hands, 
and he and Karl Marx embrace and kiss each other on the cheek. Heiene stares, 
slips down behind the sofa, and seated on an ottoman reads intently with her nose 
in a book. The rest talk and move toward the center of the stage, gathering around 
Lassalle, who affectionately half-embraces all with remarks from everybody : 
" How well you look ! " "And the news from Dresden I " " Did the police molest 
you? " " Was it a big audience? " etc. Lassalle seats himself on sofa with back to 
Helene, who is immediately behind him.] 

LASSALE. We will win when fifty-one per cent of the 
voters declare themselves. You see Nature never 
intended that ninety per cent of the people should slave 
for the other ten per cent. The world must see that we 
all should work that to succeed we must work for each 
other. We have thought that educated men should not 
work, and that men who work should not be educated. 
We have congested work and congested education and 
congested wealth. The good things of the world are for 
all, and if there were an even distribution there would 
be no want, no wretchedness. The rich for the most 

367 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



part waste and destroy, and of course the many have 
to toil in order to make good this waste. When we can 
convince fifty-one per cent of the people that righteous- 
ness is only a form of self-preservation, that mankind 
is an organism and that we are all parts of the whole, the 
battle will be won. [Rises and paces the floor, still talking] 
I spoke last night to five thousand people, and the way 
they listened and applauded and applauded and listened,, 
revealed how hungry the people are for truth* The hope 
of the world lies in the middle class the rich are as 
ignorant as the poverty-stricken. A way must be 
devised to reach the rich I can do it. Inaction, idle- 
ness, that is the curse. Life is fluid, and only running 
water is pure. Stagnation is death. Turbulent Rome was 
healthy, but quiescent Rome was soft, feverish, morbid, 
pathological. Now, take Hamlet what man ever had 
more opportunities? Heir to the throne beauty, power, 
youth, intellect all were his ! What wrecked Mm? Why, 
inaction; he sat down to muse, instead of being up and 
doing. He wrangled, dawdled, dreamed, followed sooth- 
sayers, and consulted mediums until his mind was 

mush 

HELENS. [Rising quickly] Mad from the beginning! 

[Lassalle and the two men to whom he was talking jump, turn, stare.] 

HELEISTE, Mad from the beginning, I say! 

TOie two friends at once quit Lassalle and move off arm in arm talking, leaving 
Lassalle and Helene eyeing each other across the sofa. Her eyes flash defiance ; he 
relaxes, smiles, paying no attention to her contradiction concerning Hamlet. He 
kneels on the sofa and leans toward her.] 

368 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



LASSALLE. Ah, this is how you look! This Is you! Yes f 

yes, It is as I thought. It is all right! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF, [Bustling forward] Oh, I forgot you 

had not met allow me to introduce 

LASSALLE. [Waving the Frau away, walks around the sofa 
taking Helene by the arm] What is the necessity of 
introducing us! People who know each other do not 
have to be introduced. You know who I am, and you 
are Brunhilde, the Red Fox. 

[Leads her around and seats her on the sofa and takes his place beside her, with 
one arm along the back of the sofa. Helene leans toward him, and flicks an imaginary 
particle of dust from his coat-collar.] 

HELENS. You were talking about your success in 
Dresden! 

[Lassalle proceeds to talk to her most earnestly. She listens, nods approval, siglis, 
and clasps her hands. The others in the room gather at opposite sides of the room 
and talk, but with eyes furtively turned now and then toward the couple, who 
are lost to the world, interested but in each other, and the great themes they are 
discussing.] 

LASSALLE. I knew we must meet. Fate decreed it so. 
You are the Goddess of the Morning and I am the Sun- 
God. 

HELENE. You are sure then about your divinity? 
LASSALLE. Yes, through a belief in yours. 
HELENE. I knew I would meet you. I felt that I must, 
in order to get you out of my mind. I am betrothed, you 

know 

LASSALLE. I know to me, from the foundation of the 
world. 

369 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



HELENE. I am betrothed to Prince Yanko Racowitza. 
You never heard of him, of course. He is out of your 
class, because he is good, and gentle, and kind, and of 
noble blood. And you are a demagogue, and a demigod, 
and a Jew, and a Mephisto! I told Yanko I would not 
wed him until I saw you. He has been trying to meet 
you, to introduce us. 

LASSALLE. That you might be disillusioned! 
HELENE. Precisely so. 

LASSALLE. How interesting! And how superfluous in 
your fairy prince. 

HELENE. He is an extraordinary man, for he said I 
should see you and him both, see you together and take 
my choice. 

LASSALLE. Good! He is a Christian, and does as he 
would be done by. I am a Christianized Jew, and I will 
bejew all Christendom. Your prince is a useless appen- 
denda, and I would kill him, were it not that I am 
opposed to duelling. I fought one duel or did not fight 
it, I should say. I faced my man, he fired and missed, 
I threw my pistol into the bushes and held out my hand 
to the late enemy. He reeled toward me and fell into 
my arms, pierced by his emotions. He is now my friend. 
Had I killed him, the vexed question between us would 
still be unsettled. I believe in brain, not brawn soul, 
not sense. Let us meet your prince, and when he sees 
you and me together, he will know we are one, and 
dare not withhold his blessing which we do not need. He 
370 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



shall be our page. Win people and use them, I say use 
them! You and I working together can win and use 
humanity for humanity's good. We talk with the same 
phrases. You say, " Two wishes make a will " so do I. 
We read the same books, are fed at the same springs. 
Our souls blend together; great thoughts are children, 

born of married minds 

HELENE. My carriage is at the door I surely must go! 
LASSALLE. 1 11 order your coachman to go home; we will 
walk. 

[Strides to the door, and gives the order and in an instant returns, picks up Helene's 
wraps and proceeds affectionately to help her on with overshoes, cloak and hat.] 

LASSALLE. The fact is that life lies in mutual service 
any other course is merely existence. Those who do 
most for others enjoy most. Well, good-night, dear Karl 
Marx, [Shakes hands] and you, Doctor Haenle what 
would life be to me without you! Good-night, Herr 
Holthoff and dear Frau Holthoff ! 

[Kisses the Fran's hand. Helene helps him on with overcoat and hands him his hat. 
They disappear through the right entrance, arm in arm, faces turned toward each 
other, talking earnestly. As they go through the door, Lassalle lifts his hat to the 
company and says, " Good-night, everybody." Those on the stage turn and stare 
at one another in amazement. Doctor Haenle breaks the silence with a laugh.] 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Well, well, well! 

HERB HOLTHOFF. She is carried off on the back of a 

centaur. 

KARL, MARX. A whirlwind wooing! 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. Affinities! 

371 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



ACT TWO 
Scene: Hotel veranda in the Swiss Mountains. 

[Present : Herr Holthoff, Frau Holthoff, Doctor Haenle, Lassalle and Helene, 
seated or walking about and talking leisurely. Surroundings beautiful and an air 
of peace pervades the place.] 

DOCTOE HAENLE. These early Fall days are the finest 
of the year in the mountains. 

HELENE. Yes: for then the guests have mostly gone. 
LASSALLE. Just as the church is never quite so sacred as 
when the priest is not there! 

FEATJ HOLTHOFF. You mean the priestand congregation ? 
LASSALLE. Certainly, they go together, A priest apart 
from his people is simply a man. 
HELENE. Ferdinand loves the Church! 
LASSALLE. You should say a church, my lady fair! 
HELENE. Yes, a church this is the fourth time we have 
met. Two of the other times were in a church. 
LASSALLE. [Ecstatically] Yes, in the dim, cool, religious 
light of a church, vacant save for us two I should say 
for us one! 

HELENE. We just sat and said the lover's litany 
" Love like ours can never die." 

HERB HOLTHOFF. Well, love and religion are one at the 
last. 

LASSALLE. They were one once, and neither will be 
right until they are one again. 

HELENE. A creed is made up of ossified metaphors 
lover's metaphors. 
372 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



DOCTOR HAENLE. Good, and every one can believe a 

creed if you allow Mm to place Ms own interpretation 

on it! 

LASSALLE. That is what we will do in the Co-operative 

Commonwealth. 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Which reminds me that Bismarck, 

who loves you almost as well as we do, declares that 

you are a MonarcMst, not a Socialist, the difference 

being that you believe in the House of Lassalle and he 

in the House of Hohenzollern. 

LASSALLE. Which means, I suppose, that I will be king 

of the Co-operative Commonwealth? 

HELENE. You will be if I have my way. 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Heresy and sedition! The woman 

who loves a man confuses him with God, and regards 

him as one divinely appointed to rule. 

HELENE. I can not deny it if I would. 

FRAU HOLTHOFF. And yet tomorrow you and Lassalle 

part! 

HELENE. Only for a time. 

LASSALLE. For how long, no man can say; that is why 

I have urged that we should be married here and now. 

A notary can be gotten from the village in an hour 

you, dear comrades, shall be the witnesses. 

HELENE. It is only my love that makes me hesitate. 

The future of Ferdinand Lassalle, and the future of 

Socialism must not be jeopardized! 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Jeopardized? 

373 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



LASSALLE. Jeopardized by love? 

HELENE. The world would regard a marriage here as an 
elopement. My father would be furious. Who are we 
that we should run away to wed, as if I were a schoolgirl 
and Lassalle a grocer's clerk! Lassalle is the king of men. 
He convinces them by Ms logic, by his presence* by his 

enthusiasm 

HERB HOLTHOFF. He has convinced you in any event. 
HELENE. And he can and will convince the world! 
DOCTOR HAENLE. I believe he will. 
HELENE. And when he wins my parents he will secure 
an influence that will help usher in the Better Day. 

Besides 

LASSALLE. Besides? 

HELENS. [Laughing] I am engaged to marry Prince 
Racowitza I 

LASSALLE. [Smiling] True, I forgot. But when he sees 
the Goddess of the Dawn and the Socialistic Sun-God 
together, he will give them his blessing and renounce all 
claims. 

HELENE. Exactly so. 

DOCTOR HAENLE. Which is certainly better than to 
snip him off without first tying the ligature. 
FRAU HOLTHOFF. This whole situation is really amusing 
when one takes a cool look at it. Here is Helene betrothed 
to Prince Racowitza, who is intelligent, kind, amiable, 
good, unobjectionable. And because society demands 
that a girl shall marry somebody, she accepts the 
374 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



situation, and until Lassalle, the vagrant planet, came 
shooting through, space, this girl of aspiration and 
ambition would have actually wedded the unobjection- 
able man and herself become unobjectionable to please 
her unobjectionable parents. 

HEKR HOLTHOFF. That is a plain, judicial statement of 
the case., made by the wife of a fairly good man. 
LASSALL.E. Error set in motion continues indefinitely, 
all according to the physical law of inertia. The customs 
of society continue, and are always regarded by the 
many as perfect in fact, divine. This continues until 
some one called a demagogue and a fanatic suggests a 
change. This talk of change causes a little wobble in the 
velocity of the error, but it still spins forward and 
crushes and mangles all who get in the way. That is 
what you call orthodoxy the subjection of the many* 
The men, run over and mangled, are spoken of as 
" dangerous/' 

HERB HOLTHOFF. Which reminds me that when people 
say a man is dangerous, they simply mean that his 
ideas are new to them. 

LASSALLE. [Seating himself at a table opposite Helene] 
You hear, my Goddess of the Dawn, Helene, that 
dangerous ideas are simply new ideas? 
HELENE. Yes, I heard it and I have said it. 
LASSALLE. Because I have said it. 
HELENE. Undoubtedly, which is reason enough. 
LASSALLE. Can you make your father believe that? 

375 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



HELENE. I intend to try and I expect to succeed. 

[All slip away and leave Helene and Lassalle alone. As the conversation grows 
earnest, he holds her hands across the table, just as the lovers do in a Gibson picture.] 

LASSALLE. And you still think this better than that we 
should proclaim the republic tomorrow, and have our 
dear friends go down and inform the world that we are 
man and wife? 

HELENS. Listen: The desire of my life is to be your wife. 
No ceremony can make us more completely one than 
we are now. My soul is intertwined with yours. All that 
remains is, how shall we announce the truth to the 
world? Shall we do it by the tongue of scandal? That is 
not necessary. Doctor Haenle can take you to call on 
my father. I will be there we will meet incidentally. 
You are irresistible to men, as well as to women. My 
father will study you. You will allow him to talk you 
will agree with him. After he has said all he has to say, 
you will talk, and he will gradually agree with you. My 
parents will become accustomed to your presence 
they will see that you are a gentleman. Prince Raco- 
witza will be there, and he will not have to be told the 
truth he will see it. He will be obedient to my wishes. 

He admires me, and you 

LASSALLE. I love you. 

HELENE. You love me the world seems tame, I am 
simply yours. 

LASSALLE. I realize it, and so, like your little prince, I 
am obedient an obedient rebel! 
376 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



HELENE. A rebel ? 

LASSALLE, I say it, but very gently. I can win your 

parents and the prince, quite as well if introduced to 

them as your husband, as if we faced each other in their 

presence and pretended a nice word, that pretended 

we had never met. There, I am done. I am now your 

page your slave. 

HELENE. [Disturbed and sligMy nettled] Then grant me 

a small favor. 

LASSALLE. Even if it be the half of my kingdom. 

HELENE. Let me see a picture of Madame Hatzfeldt! 

LASSALLE. Whom? 

HELENE. Madame Hatzfeldt. 

LASSALLE. [Coloring and confused] Oh, surely, I will I 

will find one for you and send it byjrnail. 

HELENE. Perhaps you have one in your pocketbook? 

LASSALLE. Oh, that is so; possibly I have! 

[Takes pocketbook out of breast-pocket of his coat, fumbles and finds a small, 
square photograph, which he passes over to Helene, who studies his face and 
then, the photograph.] 

HELENE. [Looking at picture] She has intellect! 

LASSALLE. [Trying to laugh] She was born in Eighteen 

Hundred Eight I call her Grandma! 

HELENE. Is she handsome? 

LASSALLE. Oh, twenty years ago she was. 

HELENE. Twenty years ago she was a woman in 

distress? 

LASSALLE* Yes* 

377 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



HELENE. And women In distress are very alluring to 

gallant and adventurous young men. 

LASSALLE. It was twenty years ago, I say. 

HELENE. And now you are are friends? 

LASSALLE. We are friends! 

HELENE* [Archly] Shall I win her before we are married* 

or after? 

LASSALLE. After. 

HELENE. As you say. 

LASSALLE. We are both needlessly humble, I take it! 

[Smiles and gently takes her hand.] 

HELENE. [Smiles back] We understand each other. 
LASSALLE. And to be understood is paradise. 
HELENE. We have been in paradise eight days. 
LASSALLE. Paradise! 
HELENE. Paradise! 

LASSALLE. And now we go out into the world 

HELENE. To meet at my father's house. 

LASSALLE. At the day and hour next week that you 

shall name. 

HELENE. Even so. 

[They liold hands, look into each other's eyes wistfully and solemnly. Both rise and 
walk off the stage in opposite directions. Lassalle hesitates, stops and looks back at 
her as if he expected she would turn and command him to go with her. She does not 
command him, and he goes off the stage alone, slowly and with a dejected air, which 
for him is unusual.] 



378 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



ACT THREE 
Scene: A bedroom in the Metropolitan Hotel, Berlin* 

pLassatie in shirt-sleeves, putting on his collar before the mirror. Jacques standing 
by, brushing his coat.] 

LASSALLE. [Wrestling with unruly collar-button] Yes; 
that is the coat. A long, plain, priestly coat. [Gaily, half 
to himself and half to valet] You see, I am going on a 

delicate errand, and I must not fail 

JACQUES. They say you never fail in anything. 
LASSALLE. Which is not saying that I might not fail in 
the future. 
JACQUES. Impossible. 

LASSALLE. Now, today I am going to call on a man who 
hates me who totally misunderstands me and my 
task is to convince him, without mentioning the subject, 
that I am a gentleman. In fact [A knock at the door] In 
fact answer that, please, Jacques to convince him 
that a man may be earnest and honest in his efforts for 

human betterment, and that 

JACQUES. [To porter at door] The master, Herr Lassalle, 
is dressing. I will give him her card. 
PORTER. She says she knows him, and demands admit- 
tance. She will give neither her name nor her card. 
JACQUES. Herr Lassalle can not receive her here 
patience I will tell him, and he will see her in half an 
hour in the parlor! 

Enter HELENE 

[Pauses breathlessly on the threshold, then pushes past the porter. The valet con- 
fronts her with arms outstretched to stay her entering.] 

379 



JPEKD1JN AJND LASSALLE AND 



HELENS. Ferdinand I I am here! 

[Lassalle turns and stares, surprised, overcome, joyous seizes the valet by the 
shoulder and pushes him out of the door, bowling over the porter who blocks the 
entrance. Lassalle and Helene face each other. He is about to take her in his arms ; 
she backs away.] 

HELENE. Not yet, dear, not yet! 

[She sinks into a chair in great confusion, struggling for breath.] 

LASSALLE. [Leaning over her tenderly] Tell me what has 

happened! 

HELENE. The worst. 

LASSALLE. You mean 

HELENE. That I told my father and mother! 

LASSALLE. And they 

HELENE. Renounced me, cursed me called me vile 

names threatened me! They said you are a 

[Trying to laugh] 

LASSALLE. A Jew and a demagogue! 
HELENE. Would to God they had used terms so mild. 
LASSALLE. Did they attack my honor my personal 
character? 

HELENE. Why ask me? What they said is nothing. They 
axe furious, blind with rage I escaped to save my life 
and I am here. 

LASSALLE. [Coolly, taking his seat in a chair opposite her] 
Yes, you are here, that is irrefutable. You are here. Now 
we must consider the situation and then decide on 
what to do. First, let me ask you how you came to 
mention me to them. 
380 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



HELENE. Is It necessary that we should enter Into 
details? Pardon me, I am so sick with, fear and humilia- 
tion. When I reached home I found the whole household 
joyous over the news of my sister's betrothal to Count 
Kayserling. They are to be married in June. I thought it 
a good time to tell my own joy. You see, I hesitated 
about your coming to our home in a false position you 
and I meeting as if we had never met. I told my sister 
first. She was grieved, but satisfied since it was my 
will. She kissed me in blessing. I am an honest woman, 
Ferdinand that is, I want to be honest. I scorn a lie 
my prayer is to leave every prevarication behind. So 
I told my mother of you knowing of course there 
would be a storm, but never guessing the violence of it. 
She called in my father and cried, " Your daughter 
has been debauched by a Jew! " I resented the insult 
and tried to explain. I upheld you my father seized 
the bread-knife from the table and brandished it over 
me, trying to make me swear never to see you. I refused 
he choked me and called me a harlot. To save my 
life I promised never again to see you. Their violence 
abated, and when their vigilance relaxed, I escaped and 
came here here! 

[Holds out her arms toward Mm ; and cowers into Iier seat as slie sees lie does not 
respond.] 

LASSALLE. Yes, you are here. 

HELENE. Do you not see? I have come to yoiu 

LASSALLE. [Musingly] I see! 

381 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



HELENE. Yes, and in doing this I have burned my 
bridges. I can never go back I have broken my promise 
with, them for you. They are no longer my parents. 

The Paris Express goes in half an hour 

LASSALLE. You studied the time-table? 
HELENE. [Trying to smile] Yes, I calculated the time. 
To be caught here is death to me, and prison to you. In 
this town my father is supreme the law is construed 
as he devises safety for us lies in flight! 
LASSALLE. But my belongings! 
HELENE. Your valet can attend to them. 
LASSALLE. And I run away, flee? 
HELENE. [Trying to be gay] Yes, with me, 
LASSALLE. [Exasperatingly cool] It would be the first 
time I ever ran away from danger. 
HELENE. If you remain here you may never have 
another chance. 

LASSALLE. You mean that your father or that little 
prince, Yanko, may do me violence? 
HELENE. No one can tell what my father may do in his 
present state of mind. 
LASSALLE. Then I will remain and see. 
HELENE. [In agony] We are wasting time. Do you 
understand that as soon as my absence is discovered* 
they will hunt for me even now the police may be 
notified! 

LASSALLE. Let cowards and criminals run we have 
done nothing of which we need be ashamed. 
382 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



Surely not but what more can I say! Oh, 

Ferdinand, my Ferdinand! 
LASSALLE. Listen to me 

[Knocking is heard at the door. She involuntarily moves toward him for protection. 
He enfolds her in his arms just an instant. More knocking and louder. Lassalle 
tenderly puts her away from him and goes to the door, opens it. The landlord 

stands there with the porter behind him.] 

LANDLORD. [Entering] You will pardon me, Herr Lassalle 
but the mother and sister of the Fraulein are in the 
parlor below. They had spies follow her it is all a mis- 
understanding, I know. But the young lady should 
you will pardon me, both should not be here with you. 
She will have to go. I declared to her mother that she 
was not here; the porter told her otherwise. The police 
are at the entrance, and you understand I can not afford 
to have a scene. Will the Fraulein be so good as to go 
below and meet her mother ? 
HELENE. My mother! I have no mother. 
LANDLORD. You will excuse me if I insist. 

[Lassalle starts toward the landlord as if he would throttle him. Then bethinks 
himself and smiles.] 

LASSALLE. Certainly, kind sir, she will go, and I will go 
with her. We will excuse you now! 

[Puts hands on shoulder and half-pushes landlord out of the door. Closes door J 

HELENE. [In terror] What shall I do? 
LASSALLE. Do? Why, there is only one thing to do 
meet your mother and sister. I will go, too. [Adjusts his 
cottar and puts on his vest and coat] There, I am ready 

we go! 

383 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AJNU 



HELENE. You do not know them. It is death. 
LASSALLE. Nonsense! Have I not addressed a mob and 
won? Do you trust me? 

[Basses her on tie forehead, and putting Ms arm around her, leads her to the door.] 

HELENE. [In agony, striving to ^ be calm] I ^1 trust you. 

To whom can I turn! 

[Exeunt.] 



384 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



ACT FOUR 
Scene: The Hotel-Parlor. 

[Hilda, sister of Helene, hanging dejectedly out of window. Frau Von Donniges 
standing statue-like in the center of room. Two hotel porters making pretense of 
dusting furniture.] 

Enter LASSALLE with HELENE cm his arm. 

LASSALLE. [To Helene] Courage, my dear, courage! 

[Bows to Frau Von Donniges, who is unconscious of his presence. Lassalle and 
Helene hesitate and look at each other nervously. Helene clutches Lassalle's arm to 
keep from falling they both move slowly around the statuesque Frau. The Frau 
suddenly perceives them, turns and glares.] 

FRAU VON DONNIGES. Away with that man I will not 

allow Mm to remain in this room! 

LASSALLE. [Bowing, with hand on heart] Surely, Madame, 

you do not know me. Will you not allow me to speak 

to explain! 

FRAU VON DONNIGES. Away, I say out of my sight 1 

Begone, you craven coward you thief! 

[These are new epithets to Lassalle. He is used to being called a Jew, a fanatic, a 
dangerous demagogue something half-complimentary. But there is no alloy in 
" coward," " thief." He looks at Helena as if to receive reassurance that he hears 
aright.] 

HELENE. Come you see it is as I told you reason in 
her is dead. Let us go. 

LASSALLE. [Loosening Helene's hold upon his arm and 
stepping toward the Frau] Madame, you have availed 
yourself of a woman's privilege, and used language 
toward me which mennever use toward each other unless 
they court death. I say no more to you, preferring now 
to speak to your husband. 

385 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



FRAU VON DONNIGES. Yes, you speak to my husband 
and lie will give you what you deserve. 
LASSALLE. [Changing his tactics] Your husband is a gentle- 
man, I trust. And you are the mother of the lady I 
love, so I will resent nothing you say. You speak only in 
a passion, and not from your heart. I resent nothing, 
FRAU VON DONNIGES. A man spotted with every vice 
says he loves my daughter! Your love is pollution. My 
ears are closed to you you may stand and grimace and 
insult me, but I hear you not. Go! 
LASSALLE. Very well, I will go and see Helene's father. 
Men may dislike each other they may be enemies, but 
they do not spit on each other. If they fight, they fight 
courteously. I will see Helene's father he will at least 
hear me. 

FBAU VON DONNIGES. You enter his house, and the 
servants will throw your vile body into the street. 
LASSALLE. I have written him that I will call. 
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Your letter was cast into the 
garbage unopened. 

LASSALLE. [Stung] It may be possible, Madame, for you 
to wear out my patience. 

FRAU VON DONNIGES. You have already succeeded in 
wearing out mine. 

HELENE. [In agony wringing her hands] Hopeless, 
Ferdinand, you see it is hopeless! 
LASSALLE. [Aside to Helene] Her outbreak will pass in a 
moment. 
386 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



FKAU VON DONNIGES. You have ruined the reputation 
of my family stolen my child. You, who are known 
over an empire for your dealings with women! 
HELENE. [Joining in the fray, in shrill excitement] 
False! He did not steal me I went to him unasked. 
You who call yourself my mother, how dare you traduce 
me so, you who bore me! I fled from you to save my life 
to escape your tortures, you killed my love. I am 
Lassalle's, because I love him. He understands me you 
do not. When you abuse him, you abuse me. When you 
trample on him, you trample on me. I now choose life 
with him in preference to perdition with you. I follow 
him, I am his, I glory in him. Now! 

[Helene turns to Lassalle in triumph, believing of course that after she has just 
avowed herself, they will stand together he and she.] 

LASSALLE. [Calmly] Well spoken, Helene, and now tell 

me, will you make a sacrifice a temporary sacrifice for 

me? 

HELENE. [Looking straight at him in absolute faith] Yes 5 

command me! 

LASSALLE. Go home, with your mother! 

HELENE. Anything but that. 

LASSALLE. Yes, that is what I ask. 

HELENE. [Writhing in awful pain] You will not ask of 

me the impossible. 

LASSALLE. No, but this you can do. Your going will 

soften them. We will win them. Go with them. Do this 

for me. I leave you here. 

387 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



[Backs away, and goes out bowing low and very calm. Helene sinks into a dbair, 
crushed in spirit, wrenched, mangled.] 

HILDA VON DONNIGES. [Comes forward, and caresses the 
drooping head of her sister] Bear up, Helene, my sister! 
We are your friends, our home is yours, no matter what 
you have done we forgive it all. Our home is still 
yours. Bear up he is gone now come with us. [Helene 
merely moans] 

FRAU VON DONNIGES. [In Amazonian flush of success] 
No more of this foolishness no more of it, I say ! He is 
gone ; I knew he could not withstand my plain-spoken 
truths. He could not look me in the eye. You heard me, 
Hilda; he could not answer he dare not. Come, Helene! 

[Shakes her by the shoulder. Commotion is heard outside.] 

LANDLORD. [Entering by backing into the room, striving 
by tongue and hands to calm some one outside] Be calm, 
kind sir! I am innocent in this matter. The ladies are 
here here in the parlor. The man is gone he never 
was here. In fact, he left before he came foe calm -I 
keep a respectable house. The police will raid the place, 
I fear. Be calm and I will explain all! 
HEKB VON DONNIGES. [Purple with rage, big, prosperous 
brandishing cudgel] The Jew show me the Jew who 
seduced my daughter! Show him to me, I say! That 
corrupt scum of society the man who broke into my 
house and stole my daughter. [Waves his cane and smites 
the air] Where is that infidel Jew! 
FRATJ VON DONNIGES. Now, do not be a fool I sent the 
388 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



Jew on Ms way. It was not necessary that you should 
follow. I can take care of this little matter. 
HERR VON DONNIGES. Oh, so you protect her, do you? 
You side with her? You are a party to her undoing! And 
has the Jew seduced you, too? Where is he, I say? You 
seem to be deaf. This man who has ruined my home 
he is the man I want, not your apologies. The girl is my 
daughter, I say! [Suddenly sees Helene crouching in a 
chair, her face between her knees] Oh, so you are here, my 
pretty miss you who brought ruin on your father's 
house. 

[Puts one foot against chair and overturns it. Kicks at prostrate form of Helene. 
Then seizing her by the hair, drags her across the room, striking her face with his 
open hands. The mother, daughter and landlord try to restrain his fury.] 

LANDLORD. You will kill her! 

FRAU VON DONNIGES. She has brought it on herself! 

But stop it is enough. 

HEKR VON DONNIGES. [Half-frightened at his own 

violence, reaching into his pocket brings out purse and 

throws it at feet of landlord] Not a word about this! 

LANDLORD. Trust me you will tell of it first! 

HERR VON DONNIGES. Is there a carriage at the door? 

LANDLORD. Yes. 

HERR VON DONNIGES. If any one asks, tell them my 

daughter is insane & maniac and a little force was 

necessary you understand? 

LANDLORD. I understand. 

HERR VON DONNIGES. Here, we must carry her out* 

[Tears down curtains from windows and rolls Helene in the curtains.] 

389 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



LANDLORD. You must pay for those ! 
HERR VON DONNIGES. Name the amount! 

LANDLORD. Why, they cost me 

HERR VON DONNIGES. Never mind. Charge them to the 
Jew. Here, help carry her this daughter who has 
ruined me! 

LANDLORD. You act like a man who might do the task 
of ruining yourself. 

[Helene starts -to rise. Her father fells her to the floor with the flat of his hand 
Seizes her and with the help of the mother and landlord carries her out. Exit, with 
Hilda following behind, mildly wringing her hands.] 

HILDA VON DONNIGES. Oh, why did she bring this 
disgrace upon us? 



390 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



ACT FIVE 
Scene: Room in house of Herr Von. Donniges. 

[Furnishings are rich and old-fashioned, as becomes the house of a collector of 
revenue. Helene pacing the room talking to maidservant, who sits quietly sewing.] 

HELENE. It is only a week since I saw Lassalle only a 
week. Yet my poor head says it is a year, and my heart 
says a lifetime. For six days my father kept me locked 
in that little room in the tower, where not even you 
were allowed to enter. The butler silently pushed food 
in at the door and as silently went away. Once each day 
at exactly noon my father came and solemnly asked* 
" Do you renounce Lassalle? " and I as solemnly 
answered, ctf I will yet be the wife of Lassalle." But since 
yesterday, when I wrote the letter at their dictation to 
Lassalle telling him that he was free, and that I was 
soon to marry Prince Yanko Racowitza, I feel a load 
lifted from my heart. How queer ! Perhaps it is because 
I am relieved of the pressure of my parents and have 
been given my freedom! 

MAID. Not quite freedom; for see there is a guard 
pacing back and forth at the door! 

[Guard is seen through, tlie window pacing his beat.] 

HELENE. Oh, freedom is only comparative but now 
you are with me. I needed some one to whom I could 
talk. Yet I did not renounce Lassalle until he failed to 

rescue me he did not even answer my letter 

MAID. Possibly he did not receive it! 
HELENE. But you bribed the porter! 

391 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



MAID. True; but some one may have paid him more! 

HELENE. Listen, do you still think It possible that 

Lassalle has not forgotten me? 

MAID. Not only possible, but probable. A man of his 

intellect would guess that the letter you wrote was 

forced from you. 

HELENE. A lawyer surely would understand that for 

things done in terrorem one is not responsible. Now see 

what I am doing yesterday I hoped never again to see 

Lassalle, and now I am planning and praying he will 

come to me. 

MAID. Your heart is with Lassalle. 

HELENE. It seems so. 

MAID. Then God will bring it about, and you shall be 

united. 

Enter SERVANT 

SERVANT. Prince Racowitza! 

Enter PRINCE RACOWITZA 

[The Prince is small, dark, dapper, unobjectionable. He is much agitated. Helene 
holds out her Jband to frim in a friendly, but non-committal, discreet way. Maid 
starts to go.] 

PBINCE. [To maid] Do not leave the room I have 
serious news, and your mistress may need your services 
when I tell her what I have to say! 
HELENE. [Relieved by the thought that the Prince is about 
to renounce all claims to one so caught in the web of scandal] 
You will remain with me, Elizabeth; I may need you. 
And now, Prince Yanko I am steeled [tries to smile] 
- give me the worst. [The Prince making passes in the 
392 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



air, tierce and thrust with his cane at an imaginary foe} 

I say, dear Prince, tell me the worst I think I can bear 

it. [Helene is almost amused by the sight of the semi-comic 

opera-bouffe prince] Tell me the worst! 

PRINCE. Lassalle has challenged your father! 

HELENE. [Blanching] Lassalle has challenged my father ! 

PRINCE. To the death. [Aiming with his cane at a piece 

of statuary in the corner] One, two, three fire! 

HELENE. It is not so. Lassalle is opposed to the code on 

principle. 

PRINCE. There are no principles in time of war! Are you 

ready, gentlemen One, two, three! 

HELENE. [Contemptuously] Why do you not fight him? 

PRINCE. Is there no way, gentlemen, by which this 

unfortunate affair can be arranged? If not 

HELENE. You did not hear me! 

PRINCE. Oh, yes, I heard you, and I am to fight him at 
sunrise. Your father turned the challenge over to me! 
HELENE. To you? 

PRINCE. And your father has fled to Paris it is a 
serious thing to be a party to a duel in Germany a 
sure-enough duel! 

HELENE. But you are not a swordsman, nor have you 
ever shot a pistol you told me so once. 
PRINCE. But I have been practising at the shooting- 
gallery for two hours. The keeper there says I am a 
wonderful shot I hit a plaster-of-Paris rabbit seven 
times in succession! 

393 



FERDINAND LASSALLE AND 



fHelene is excited ; her thought is that Lassalle, being a sure shot and a brave man, 
will surely kill the Prince. This will eliminate one factor in the tangle. Lassalle 
having killed his man will have to flee the Government only tolerates him now. 
And she will flee with him her father in Paris, the Prince dead, exile for Lassalle 
the way lubricated by the gods good.] 

HELENE. [Excitedly] Yes, fight Mm, kill Mm! 
PRINCE. I will fight Mm at sunrise at once after the 
meeting,, I will drive directly here. If I am unhurt, we 
will fly you and I f or Paris to meet your father. If I 
am wounded, the carriage will come with the horses 
walking; if I am dead, the horses will be on a run; if I 

am unharmed, the horses will simply trot and 

HELENE. [Who knows that LassaUe will kill the Prince, 
%sfenca%] Will trot good! And now good-by,good-by ! 

[Kisses him explosively and backs him out of the door.] 

[Exit Prince} 

HELENE. [In ecstasy} Lassalle will kill him! 

MAID. I am afraid he will. 

HELENE. And this will make us free, free! 

MAID. It will exile you. 

HELENE, And since tMs home is a prison, exile would be 

paradise. 



394 



HELENE VON DONNIGES 



ACT SIX 
Scene: Same as Act Five* Time, one day later. 

[Very early in tiie morning. Helene and maid in traveling costume, small valises 
and rugs rolled and strapped, on center-table.] 

HELENE. Yon gave my letter to Doctor Haenle himself, 
into his own hands! 
MAID. Into his own hands. 

HELENE. Then there was no mistake. I told Lassalle I 
would meet him at the station at seven o'clock only 
half an hour yet to spare! We will catch the Switzerland 
Express. Lassalle will have to go this affair means 
exile for him but for us to be exiled together will be 
Heaven. Now this is a pivotal point we must be calm. 
MAID. Surely you are calm. 

HELENE. Yet I did not sleep a moment all the night. 
MAID. Probably Lassalle did not either. 
HELENE. Did you hear a carriage? 
MAID. [Peering out of window} Only a wagon. 
HELENE. Listen! 

MAID. I hear the sound of horses! 
HELENE. Running? 
MAID. They are running! 

HELENE. My God; yes, they come closer they are 
running! Oh, thank Heaven, thank Heaven, the Prince 
is dead I am both sorry and glad. 
MAID. There, they are turning this way there, the 
carriage stops at the door ! 

HELENE. Dead the Prince is dead. Now in the 

395 



FERDINAND LASSALLE 



excitement that will follow the carrying in of the body* 
we will escape we can walk to the station in ten minutes 
that gives us ten minutes to spare. Here, you take the 
rug and this valise, I will take the other. We will find a 
street porter at the corner, or a carriage. Do not open 
the door until I tell you! 

[Door bursts open and Prince Yanko half-tumbles in J 

PRINCE. I am unharmed congratulate me I am 
unharmed! 

[Opens arms to embrace Helene, who backs away J 

HELENE. And Lassalle Lassalle where is Lassalle? 

PRINCE. He is dead I killed him! 

HELENE. You killed Lassalle the greatest man in 

Europe you killed him! 

PRINCE. He fell at the first fire congratulate me! 

HELENE. You lie! Lassalle is not dead. Away! Away! I 

scorn you loathe you away the sight of you bums 

my eyeballs the murderer of Lassalle away! 

[Helene crouches in a comer. Prince stands stiff, amazed. Hie man, with valises 
in one hand and rug in shawl-strap, looks on with lack-luster eye, frozen by 
indecision.] 

Note. Helene von Donniges married Prince Racowitza 
three weeks after the death of Lassalle. The Prince died 
two years later. Princess Helene committed suicide at 
Munich, March Twenty-six, Nineteen Hundred Twelve, 
aged sixty-seven years. These facts are of such a dull 
slaty-gray and so lacking in dramatic interest that they 
are omitted from the play. 
396 



LORD NELSON AND 
LADY HAMILTON 




LORD NELSON 



The last moments which Nelson passed at Merton were 
employed in praying over his little daughter as she lay 
sleeping. A portrait of Lady Hamilton hung in his 
cabin; and no Catholic ever beheld the picture of his 
patron saint with more devout reverence. The undis- 
guised and romantic passion with which he regarded it 
amounted almost to superstition; and when the portrait 
was now taken down, in clearing for action, he desired 
the men who removed it to " take care of his guardian 
angel." In this manner he frequently spoke of it, as if 
he believed there was a virtue in the image. He wore 

a miniature of her also next to his heart. 

Robert Southey 



LORD NELSON AND 
LADY HAMILTON 




OBERT SOUTHEY, poet laureate, 
and conservative Churchman, wrote 
the life of Nelson, wrote it on stolen 
time sandwiched in between essays 
and epics. And now behold it is the 
one effort of Robert Southey that 
perennially survives, and is relig- 
iously read his one great claim to 
literary immortality. 

Murray, the original Barabbas, got together six mag- 
azine essays on Lord Nelson, and certain specific mem- 
oranda from Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson's sisters, 
and sent the bundle with a check for one hundred 
pounds to Southey, asking him to write the " Life," 
and have it ready inside of six weeks, or return the 
check and papers by bearer. 

Southey needed the money: he had his own family to 
support, and also that of Coleridge, who was philos- 
ophizing in Germany. Southey needed the money! Had 
the check not been sent in advance, Southey would 
have declined the commission. Southey began the work 
in distaste, warmed to it, got the right focus on his 
subject, used the wife of Coleridge as 'prentice talent, 
and making twice as big a book as he had expected, 
completed it in just six weeks. 

399 



LORD NELSON AND 



Other men might have written lives of Lord Nelson, 

but they did not; and all who write on Lord Nelson 

now, paraphrase Southey. 

And thus are great literary reputations won on a 

fluke. 



400 



LADY HAMILTON 




lORATIO NELSON, bom In Seventeen Hun- 
dred Fifty-eight, was one of a brood of nine 
children, left motherless when the lad was 
nine years of age. His father was a clergyman, 
and passing rich on forty pounds a year. It was the 
dying wish of the mother that one of the children 
should be adopted by her brother, Captain Suckling, 
of the Navy. 

This captain was a grandnephew of Sir John Suckling 
the poet, and one of the great men of the family him- 
self acknowledging it. Captain Suckling promised the 
stricken woman that her wish should be respected. 
Three years went by and he made no move. Horatio, 
then twelve years of age, hearing that " The Raison- 
nable," his uncle's ship, had just anchored in the Med- 
way, wrote the gallant captain, reminding him of the 
obligation and suggesting himself as a candidate. 
The captain replied to the boy's father that the idea of 
sending the smallest and sickliest of the family to 
rough it at sea was a foolish idea; but if it was the 
father's wish, why send the youngster along, and in 
the very first action a cannon-ball might take off the 
boy's head, which would simplify the situation. 
This was an acceptance, although ungracious, and our 
young lad was duly put aboard the stage, penniless, 
with a big basket of lunch, ticketed for tidewater. 
There a kind-hearted waterman rowed the boy out to 
the ship and put him aboard, where he wandered on 

401 



LORD NELSON AND 



the deck for two days, too timid to make himself 
known, before being discovered, and then came near 
being put ashore as a stowaway. It seems that the 
captain had made no mention to any one on the ship 
that his nevy was expected, and, in fact, had probably 
forgotten the matter himself. 

And so Horatio Nelson, slim, slight, slender, fair-haired 
and hollow-eyed, was made cabin-boy, with orders to 
wait on table, wash dishes and " tidy up things." And 
he set such a pace in tidying up the captain's cabin 
that that worthy officer once remarked, " Dammittall, 
he is n't half as bad as he might be." 
Finally, Horatio was given the tiller when a boat was 
sent ashore. He became an expert in steering, and was 
made coxswain of the captain's launch. He learned the 
Channel in low tide from Chatham to the Tower, 
making a map of it on his own account. He had a scent 
for rocks and shoals, and knew how to avoid them for 
good pilots are born, not made. 

A motherless boy with a discouraged father is very 
fortunate. If he ever succeeds, he knows it must be 
through his own exertions. The truth is pressed home 
upon him that there is nothing in the universe to help 
him but himself a great lesson to learn. 
Young Nelson soon saw that his uncle's patronage, no 
matter how well intentioned, could not help him beyond 
making him coxswain of the longboat. -And anyway, 
if he was promoted, he wanted it to be on account of 
402 



LADY HAMILTON 



merit, and not relationship. So he got himself trans- 
ferred to another boat that was about to sail for the 
West Indies, and took the rough service that falls to 
the lot of a jack-tar. His quickness in obeying orders, 
his alertness and ability to climb, his scorn of danger, 
going to the yardarm to adjust a tangled rope in a 
storm, or fastening the pennant to the mainmast in 
less time than anybody else on board ship could perform 
the task, made him a marked man. He did the difficult 
thing, the unpleasant task, with an amount of good- 
cheer that placed him in a class by himself. He had no 
competition. Success was in his blood his silent, sober 
ways, intent only on doing his duty, made his services 
sought after when a captain was fitting out a dangerous 
undertaking. 

Nelson made a trip to the Arctic, and came back 
second mate at nineteen. He went to the Barbadoes 
and returned lieutenant. He was a lieutenant-com- 
mander at twenty, and at twenty-one was given charge 
of a shipyard. Shortly after, he was made master of a 
schoolship, his business being to give boys their first 
lessons in seamanship. His methods here differed from 
those then in vogue. When a new boy, agitated and 
nervous, was ordered to climb, Nelson, noticing the 
lad's fear, would say, " Now, lads, I am with you and 
it is a race to the crow's-nest." And with a whoop he 
would make the start, allowing the nervous boy to 
outstrip him. Then once at the top, he would shout: 

403 



LORD NELSON .AND 



"Now Isn't this glorious! Why, there Is no danger, 
except when you think danger. A monkey up a tree Is 
safer than a monkey on the ground; and a sailor on the 
yard Is happier than a sailor on the deck hurrah!" 
f Admiral Hood said that, if Nelson had wished It, he 
could have become the greatest teacher of boys that 
England ever saw. 

At twenty-three Nelson was made a captain and placed 
in charge of the "Albemarle/' He was sent to the North 
Sea to spend the winter along the coast of Denmark. 
A local prince of Denmark has described a business 
errand made aboard the "Albemarle/' Says the Dane: 
" On asking for the captain of the ship, I was shown a 
boy in a captain's uniform, the youngest man to look 
upon 1 ever saw holding a like position. His face was 
gaunt and yellow, his chest flat, and his legs absurdly 
thin. But on talking with him I saw he was a man born 
to command, and when he showed me the ship and 
pointed out the cannon, saying, * These are for use if 
necessity demands/ there was a gleam in his blue eyes 
that backed his words/* 

Before he was twenty-six years old Nelson had fought 
pirates, savages, Spaniards, French, and even crossed 
the ocean to reason with Americans, having been sent 
to New York on a delicate diplomatic errand. On this 
trip he spent some weeks at Quebec, where he met a 
lady fair who engrossed his attention and time to such 
a degree that his officers feared for his sanity. This was 
404 



LADY HAMILTON 



Ms first love-affair, and he took it seriously. <f It was 
time for the "Albemarle "* to sail, when its little 
captain was seen making his way rapidly up the hill. 
He was given stern chase by the second officer and on 
being overhauled explained that he was going back to 
lay his heart and fortune at the feet of the lady. The 
friend explained that, it being but seven o'clock in the 
morning, the charmer probably could not be seen, and 
so the captain in his spangles and lace was gotten on 
board ship and the anchor hoisted. Once at sea, salt 
water and distance seemed to effect a cure. 
In Nelson's character was a peculiar trace of trust and 
innocence. Send your boys to sea and the sailors will 
educate them, is a safe maxim. But Nelson was an 
exception, for even in his boyhood he had held little 
converse with his mates, and in the frolics on shore he 
took no part. Physically he was too weak to meet them 
on a level, and so he pitted his brain against their 
brawn. He studied and grubbed at his books while they 
gambled, caroused and " saw the town." 
When he was in command of the schoolship, the second 
officer taunted him about his insignificant size. His 
answer was: " Sir, the pistol makes all men of equal 
size to your place! And consider yourself fined ten 
days' pay/* In buying supplies he refused to sign 
vouchers unless the precise goods were delivered and 
the price was right. On being told that this was very 
foolish, and that a captain was entitled to a quiet 

405 



LORD NELSON AND 



commission on all purchases, he began an investigation 
on his own account and found that it was the rule that 
naval and army supplies cost the government on an 
average twenty-five per cent more than they were 
worth, and that the names of laborers once placed on 
the payroll remained there for eternity. In his zeal the 
young captain made a definite statement and brought 
charges, showing where the government was being 
robbed of vast sums. On reaching London he was called 
before the Board of Admiralty and duly cautioned to 
mind his own affairs. 

His third act of indiscretion was his marriage in the 
Island of Nevis to Mrs. Frances Woolward Nesbit, a 
widow with one child. Widows often fall easy prey to 
predatory sailormen, and sometimes sailormen fall easy 
prey to widows. The widow was " unobjectionable,'* to 
use the words of Southey, and versed in all the polite 
dissipation of a prosperous slave-mart capital. Nelson 
looked upon all English-speaking women as angels of 
light and models of sympathy, insight and self-sacrifice. 
f Time disillusioned him; and he settled down into the 
firm belief that a woman was only a child whimsical, 
selfish, idle, intent on gauds, jewels and chucks under 
the chin from specimens of the genus homo any man 
but to be tolerated and gently looked after for the good 
of the race. He took his wife to England and left her 
at his father's parsonage and sailed away for the Medi- 
terranean to fight his country's battles. 
406 



LADY HAMILTON 



Among other errands he had dispatches to Sir William 
Hamilton, British Envoy at the Court of Naples. Sir 
William had never met Nelson; but he was so impressed 
at his first meeting with the little man, that he told his 
wife afterwards that if she had no objection he was going 
to invite Captain Nelson to their home. Lady Hamilton 
had no objection, although a sea-captain was hardly in 
their class. "But/* argued Sir William, '* this captain is 
different; on talking to him and noting his sober, silent, 
earnest way, I concluded that the world would yet ring 
with the name of Nelson. He fights his enemy for laying 
his ship alongside and grappling him to the death." S& 
So a room was set apart in the Hamilton household for 
Captain Nelson. The next day the captain wrote home 
to his wife that Lady Hamilton was young, amiable, 
witty and took an active part in the diplomatic business 
of the court. Nelson at this time was thirty-five years 
old ; Lady Hamilton was three years younger. 
Nelson remained only a few days in Naples, but long 
enough to impress himself upon the King and all the 
court as a man of extraordinary quality. 
Sorrow and disappointment had made him a fatalist 
he looked the part. Admiral Hood at this time said: 
M Nelson is the only absolutely invincible fighter in the 
navy. I only fear his recklessness, because he never 
counts the cost/* 

It was to be five years before Nelson met the Ham- 
Utons again. 

407 



LORD NELSON AND 




]HE man who writes the life of Lady Hamilton 
and tells the simple facts places his reputation 
for truth in jeopardy* 

Emma Lyon was the daughter of a day** 
laborer. In her babyhood her home was Hawarden, 
" the luster of fame of which town is equally divided 
between a man and a woman," once said Disraeli, with 
a solemn sidelong glance at William Ewart Gladstone. 
f At Hawarden, Lyon the obscure, known to us for 
but one thing, died, and if his body was buried in the 
Hawarden churchyard, Destiny failed to mark the spot. 
The widow worked at menial tasks in the homes of the 
local gentry, and the child was fed with scraps that fell 
from the rich man's table a condition that grew into 
a habit. 

When Emma was thirteen years old, she had learned 
to read, and could " print "; that is, she could write a 
letter, a feat her mother never learned to do. 
At this time the girl waited on table and acted as nurse- 
maid in the family of Sir Thomas Hawarden. Doubtless 
she learned by listening, and absorbed knowledge 
because she had the capacity. When Sir Thomas moved 
up to London, which is down from Hawarden, the 
sprightly little girl was taken along. 
Her dresses were a little above her shoe-tops, but she 
lowered the skirt on her own account, very shortly. 
Country girls of immature age, comely to look upon, 
Iiad better keep close at home. The city devours such 9 
408 



LADY HAMILTON 



and infamy and death for them He in wait. But here 
was an exception Emma Lyon was a child of the 
hedgerows, and her innocence was only in her appear- 
ance. She must have been at that time like the child of 
the gypsy beggar told of by Smollett, that was pur- 
chased for two pounds by an admiring gent, who made 
a bet with his friends that he could replace her rags 
with silks and fine linen, and in six weeks introduce her 
at court, as to the manner born, a credit to her sex. All 
worked well for a time, when one day, alas, under great 
provocation, the girl sloughed her ladylike manners, 
and took on the glossary of the road and camp. 
Emma Lyon at fifteen, having graduated as a scullion, 
went to work for a shopkeeper, as a servant and general 
helper. It was soon found that as a saleswoman she 
was worth much more than as a cook. A caller asked 
her where she was educated, and she explained that it 
was at the expense of the Earl of Halifax, and that she 
was his ward. 

The Earl fortunately was dead and could not deny the 
report. Sir Harry Featherston, hearing about the titled 
girl, or at least of the girl mentioned with titled people, 
rescued her from the shopkeeper and sent her to his 
country seat, that she might have the advantages of 
the best society* 

Her beauty and quiet good sense seemed to back up 
the legend that she was the natural child of the Earl of 
Halifax; and as the subject seemed to be a painful one 

409 



LORD NELSON AND 



to the child herself, it was discussed only in whispers* 
The girl learned to ride horseback remarkably well, 
and at a fete appeared as Joan of Arc, armed cap-a-pie, 
riding a snow-white stallion. Romney, the portrait- 
painter, spending a week-end with Sir Henry, was 
struck with the picturesque beauty of the child and 
painted her as Diana* Romney was impressed with the 
plastic beauty of the girl, her downcast eyes, her silent 
ways, her responsive manner, and he begged Sir Harry 
to allow her to go to London and sit for another picture. 
<I Now Sir Harry was a married man, senior warden of 
his church, and as the girl was bringing him a trifle 
more fame than he deserved, he consented. 
Romney writing to a friend, under date of June Nine- 
teenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one, says: 
"At present, and the greater part of the summer, I shall 
be engaged in painting pictures from the Divine Lady. 
I can not give her any other name, for I think her su- 
perior to all womankind. 

" I have two pictures to paint of her for the Prince of 
Wales, She says she must see you before she leaves 
England, which will be in the beginning of September. 
She asked me if you would not write my life. I told 
her you had begun it; then, she said, she hoped you 
would have much to say of her in the life, as she prided 
herself upon being my model. 

" I dedicate my time to this charming lady; there is a 
prospect of her leaving town with Sir William, for two 
410 



LADY HAMILTON 



or three weeks. They are very much hurried at present, 
as everything is going on for their speedy marriage, 
and all the world following her, and talking of her, so 
that if she has not more good sense than vanity, her 
brain must be turned. The pictures I have begun of 
Joan of Arc, a Magdalen, and a Bacchante for the 
Prince of Wales; and another I am to begin as a com- 
panion to the Bacchante. I am also to paint her as 
Constance for the Shakespeare Gallery/' 



411 



LORD NELSON AND 




1WENTY-THREE pictures of Emma Lyon 
painted by Romney are now in existence. 
England at that time was experiencing a 
tidal wave of genius, and Romney and his 
beautiful model rode In on the crest of the wave, with 
Sir Joshua, the Herschels, Edmund Burke, Richard 
Brinsley Sheridan, Doctor Johnson, Goldsmith, Horace 
Walpole and various others of equal note caught in 
amber, all of them, by the busy Boswell. 
Besides those who did things "worth while, there were 
others who buzzed, dallied, and simply seemed and 
thought they lived. Among this class who were famous 
for doing nothing was Beau Nash, the pride of the 
pump-room. Next in note, but more moderately colored, 
was Sir Charles Greville, man of polite education, a 
typical courtier, with a leaning toward music and the 
arts, which gave his character a flavor of culture that 
the others did not possess. 

The fair Emma was giving the Romney studio a trifle 
more fame than the domestic peace of the portrait- 
painter demanded, and when Sir Charles Greville, 
sitting for his portrait, became acquainted with the 
beautiful model, Romney saw his opportunity to escape 
the inevitable crash. So Sir Charles, the man of culture, 
the patron of the picturesque, the devotee of beauty, 
undertook the further education of Emma as an ethno- 
logical experiment. 

He employed a competent teacher to give her lessons 
412 



LADY HAMILTON 



in voice culture, to the end that she should neither 
screech nor purr. Sir Charles himself read to her from 
the poets and she committed to memory Pope's " Essay 
on Man/* and a whole speech by Robert Walpole, 
which she recited at a banquet at Strawberry Hill, to 
the immense surprise, not to mention delight, of Horace 
Walpole S3 S3 

Sir Charles also hired a costumer by the month to study 
the physiological landscape and prepare raiment of 
extremely rich, but somber, hues, so that the divine 
lady would outclass in both modesty and aplomb the 
fairest daughters of Albion. 

About this time, Emma became known as " Lady 
Harte," it being discovered that Burke' s Peerage con- 
tained information that the Hartes were kinsmen of the 
Earl of Halifax, and also that the Hartes had moved to 
America. The testimony of contemporary expert 
porchers seems to show that Sir Charles Greville spent 
upwards of five thousand pounds a year upon the educa- 
tion of his ward. This was continued for several years, 
when a reversal in the income of Sir Charles made 
retrenchment desirable, if not absolutely necessary. 
And as good fortune would have it, about this time Sir 
William Hamilton, British Envoy to the Neapolitan 
Court, was home on a little visit. 

He was introduced to Lady Harte by his nephew, Sir 
Charles Greville, and at once perceived and appreciated 
the wonderful natural as well as acquired gifts of the 

413 



LORD NELSON AND 



lady. <I Lady Harte was interviewed as to her possibly 
becoming Lady Hamilton, all as duly provided by the 
laws of Great Britain and the Church of England; and 
it being ascertained that Lady Harte was willing, and 
also that she was not a sister of the deceased Lady 
Hamilton, Sir William and Emma were duly married. 
<IAt Naples, Lady Hamilton at once became very 
popular. She had a splendid presence, was a ready 
talker, knew the subtle art of listening, took a sympa- 
thetic interest in her husband's work, and when neces- 
sary could entertain their friends by a song, recitation 
or a speech. Her relationship with Sir William was 
beyond reproach she was by his side wherever he 
went, and her early education in the practical workaday 
affairs of the world served her in good stead. 
Southey feels called upon to criticize Lady Hamilton, 
but he also offers as apology for the errors of her early 
life, the fact of her vagabond childhood, and says her 
immorality was more unmoral than vicious, and that 
her loyalty to Sir William was beautiful and beyond 
cavil 53 53 

Sir William Hamilton represented the British nation at 
Naples for thirty-six years. He was a diplomat of the 
old school gracious, refined, dignified, with a bias for 
Art S3 53 

Among other good things done for his country was the 
collecting of a vast treasure of bronzes gotten from 
Pompeii and Herculaneum. This collection was sold by 
414 



LADY HAMILTON 



Sir William, through the agency of his wife, to the 
British nation for the sum of seven thousand pounds. 
There was a great scandal about the purchase at the 
time, and the transaction was pointed out to prove the 
absolutely selfish and grasping qualities of Lady Ham- 
ilton, c the costly and curious vases being referred to in 
the House of Commons as " junk/' 
Time, however, has given a proper focus to the matter, 
and this collection of beautiful things made by people 
dead these two thousand years is now known to be 
absolutely priceless, almost as much so as the Elgin 
Marbles, taken from the Parthenon at Athens and 
which now repose in the British Museum, the chief 
attraction of the place* 

There were many visitors of note being constantly enter- 
tained at the Embassy of Naples. Among others was the 
Bishop of Derry, the man who enjoyed the distinction 
of being both a bishop and an infidel. When he made 
oath in the courts of alleged justice he always crossed 
his fingers, put his tongue in his cheek and winked at 
the notary. 

<I The infidelic prelate has added his testimony to the 
excellence of the character of Lady Hamilton, and once 
swore on the book in which he did not believe, that if 
Sir William should die he would wed his widow. To 
which the lady replied, ** Provided, of course, the 
widow was willing! " The temperature suddenly drop- 
ping below thirty-two Fahrenheit, the bishop moved on. 

415 



LORD NELSON AND 



9 And along about this time the "Agamemnon " sailed 
into the beautiful bay of Naples, and Captain Nelson 
made an official call upon the envoy. 
It was at dinner that night that Sir William remarked 
to Lady Emma: " My dear, that captain of the 'Aga- 
memnon* is a most remarkable man. I believe I will 
invite him here to our home." And the lady, generous, 
kind, gentle, answered, " Why certainly, invite him 
here a little rest from the sea he will enjoy/' 



416 



LADY HAMILTON 




]ROM Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three to 
Seventeen Hundred Ninety-eight, Nelson 
made history and made it rapidly. 
For three years of this time he was in constant 
pursuit of the enemy, with no respite from danger 
night or day. When a ship mutinied, Nelson was placed 
in charge of it if he was within call; and the result was 
that he always won the absolute love and devotion of 
his men. He had a dignity which forbade him making 
himself cheap, but yet he got close to living hearts. 
** The enemy are there, " he once said to a sullen crew, 
* and I depend upon you to follow me over the side 
when we annihilate the distance that separates our 
ships. You shall accept no danger that I do not accept 
no hardship shall be yours that shall not be mine. I 
need no promises from you that you will do your duty 
1 know you will. You believe in me and I in you we 
are Englishmen, fighting our country's battles, and so 
to your work, my men, to your work! " The mutinous 
spirit melted away, for the men knew that if Nelson 
fought with them it would be for the privilege of getting 
at the enemy first. No officer ever carried out sterner 
discipline, and none was more implicitly obeyed. But 
the obedience came more through love than fear. 
Nelson lost an eye in battle, in Seventeen Hundred 
Ninety-five. A few months after, in a fierce engagement, 
the admiral signaled, " Stop firing." Nelson's attention 
was called to the signal, and his reply was, " I am short 

417 



LORD NELSON AND 



one eye, and the other is n't much good, and I accept 
no signals I can not see: lay alongside of that ship and 
sink her." 

Nelson was advanced step by step and became admiral 
of the fleet. At the battle of Santa Cruz, Nelson led a 
night attack on the town in small boats. The night was 
dark and stormy, and the force expected to get in under 
the forts without being discovered. The alarm was 
given, however, and the forts opened up a terrific fire. 
Nelson was standing in the prow of a small boat, and 
fell, his arm shattered at the elbow. He insisted on 
going forward and taking command, even though his 
sword-arm was useless. Loss of blood, however, soon 
made him desist, and he was transferred to another 
boat which was sent back loaded with wounded. The 
sailors rowed to the nearest anchored ship, her lights 
out and four miles from shore. On pulling up under the 
lee of the ship, Nelscn saw that it was the corvette 
" Seahorse "; and he ordered the men to row to the 
"Agamemnon " a mile away, saying, " Captain Free- 
mantle's wife is aboard of that ship and we are in no 
condition to call on ladies/' Arriving at the "Agamem- 
non," the surgeons were already busy caring for the 
wounded. Seeing their commander, the surgeons rushed 
to his assistance. He ordered them back, declaring he 
would take his place and await his turn in line, and 
this he did. 

When it came his turn, the surgeons saw that it was a 
418 



LADY HAMILTON 



comminuted fracture of the elbow, with the whole 
right hand reduced to a pulp, and that amputation was 
the only thing. There were no anesthetics, and at day- 
light, on the deck where there was air and light, Nelson 
watched the surgeons sever the worthless arm. 
As they bandaged the stump, he dictated a report of 
the battle to his secretary; but after writing for ten 
minutes, the poor secretary fell limp in a faint, and 
Nelson ordered one of the surgeons to complete taking 
the dictation. This official report contained no mention 
of the calamity that had befallen the commander, he 
regarding the loss of an arm as merely an incident. 
In six months' time he had met and defeated all the 
ships of Napoleon that could be located. When he 
returned to England, an ovation met him such as never 
before had been given to a sailorman. He was " Sir 
Horatio," although he complained that, " They began 
to call me Lord Nelson, even before I had gotten used 
to having my ears tickled by the sound of Sir." 
He was made Knight of the Bath, given a pension of a 
thousand pounds a year, and so many medals pinned 
upon his breast that ** he walked with a limp/' a local 
writer said. The limp, however, was from undiscovered 
lead, and this, with one eye, one arm and a naturally 
slender and gaunt figure, gave him a peculiarly pa- 
thetic appearance. 

The actions of his wife at this time in pressing herself 
on society and in her endeavors to make of him a public 

419 



LORD NELSON AND 



show were the unhappy ending of a series of marital 
misunderstandings which led him to part with her, 
placing his entire pension at her disposal. 
Trouble in the East soon demanded a firm hand, and 
Nelson sailed away to meet the emergency. This time 
he was in pursuit of a concentrated fleet, with Napoleon 
on board. It was Nelson's hope and expectation to 
capture Napoleon; if he had, none would have been so 
fortunate as the Little Corporal himself. It would have 
saved him the disgrace of failure, a soldier of fortune 
seized by accident after a series of successes that daz- 
zled the world, and then captured by a sea-fighter on 
the water as great as he himself was on land. But alas! 
Napoleon was to escape, which he did by a flight where 
wind and tide seemed to answer his prayer. 
But Nelson crushed his navy. The story of the battle 
has been told in chapters that form a book, so no 
attempt to repeat the account need here be made. Let 
it suffice that sixteen English ships grappled to the 
death for three days with twenty-one French ships, 
with the result that the French fleet, save four ships, 
were sunk, burned or captured. "It was not a victory," 
said Nelson; '* it was a conquest/' The French com- 
modore, Casabianca, was killed on board of his ship 
" Orient," and his son, a lad of ten, stood on the burn- 
ing deck till all but him had fled, and supplied the 
subject for a poem that thrilled our boyish hearts and 
causes us to sigh, even yet. 
420 



LADY HAMILTON 



The four ships that escaped would probably never have 
gotten away had Nelson not been wounded by flying 
splinters which tore open his scalp. The torn skin hung 
down over his one good eye, blinding him absolutely; 
and the blood flowed over his face in jets, making him 
unrecognizable. He was carried to the surgeons' table; 
there was a hurried, anxious moment, and a shout of 
joy went up that could have been heard a mile when it 
was found that he had suffered only a flesh-wound. 
The flap was sewed back in place, his head bandaged, 
and in half an hour he was on deck looking anxiously 
for fleeing Frenchmen* When the news of the victory 
reached England, Nelson was made a baron and his 
pension increased to two thousand pounds a year for 
life. England loved him, France feared him, and Italy, 
Egypt and Turkey celebrated him as their savior. The 
elder Pitt said in the House of Commons, " The name 
of Nelson will be known as long as government exists 
and history is read." 

And Nelson, the battle won, himself wounded, ex- 
hausted through months of intense nervous strain, his 
frail body maimed and covered with scars, again sailed 
into the Bay of Naples. 



421 



LORD NELSON AND 




ELSON had saved Naples from falling a prey 
to the French, and the city now rang with 
the shouts of welcome and gratitude. 
The Hamiltons went out in a small boat and 
boarded the " Vanguard." Nelson came forward to 
greet them as they climbed over the side. The great 
fighter was leaning heavily upon a sailor who half- 
supported him. It is probably true, as stated by her 
enemies, that at sight of the Admiral, Lady Hamilton 
burst into tears, and taking him in her arms kissed 
him tenderly. 

Nelson was taken to the home of the embassy. The 
battle won, the strain upon his frail physique had its 
way; his brain reeled with fever; the echoes of the guns 
still thundered in his ears; and in his half -delirium his 
tongue gave orders and anxiously asked after the 
welfare of the fleet. He was put to bed and Lady Ham- 
ilton cared for him as she might have cared for a sick 
child. She allowed no hired servant to enter his room, 
and for several weeks she and Sir William were his only 
attendants. Gradually health returned, and Nelson had 
an opportunity to repay in part his friends, by helping 
them quell a riot that threatened the safety of the city. 
^[The months passed, and the only peace and calm 
that had been Nelson's in his entire life was now his. 
Nelson was forty years of age; Lady Hamilton was 
thirty-seven; Sir William was seventy-one. The inev- 
itable happened the most natural and the most 
422 



LADY HAMILTON 



beautiful thing in the world. Love came into the life 
of Nelson the first, last and only love of his life. And 
he loved with all the abandon and oneness of his 
nature. Sir William was aware of the bond that had 
grown up between his beautiful wife and Lord Nelson, 
and he respected it, and gave it his blessing, realizing 
that he himself belonged to another generation and 
had but a few years to live at best, and in this he 
fastened to himself with hoops of steel their affection 
for him. 

In the year Eighteen Hundred, when the Hamiltons 
started for England, Nelson accompanied them in their 
tour across the Continent, and great honors were 
everywhere paid him. 

Arriving in London he made his home with them. There 
was no time for idleness, for the Home Office demanded 
his services daily for consultation and advice, for the 
Corsican was still at large: very much at large. 
In two years Sir William died passed peacefully away, 
attended and ministered to by Lord Nelson and Lady 
Hamilton 53 53 

Two years more were to pass, and the services of a 
sea-fighter of the Nelson caliber were required. Napo- 
leon had gotten together another navy, and having 
combined with Spain they had a fleet that outclassed 
that of England. 

Only one man in England could, with any assurance 
of success, fight this superior foe on the water. Nelson 

423 



LORD NELSON AND 



fought ships as an expert plays chess. He had reduced 
the game to a science; if the enemy made this move, 
he made that. He knew how to lure a hostile fleet and 
have it pursue him to the ground he had selected, and 
then he knew how to cut it in half and whip it piece- 
meal. His fighting was consummate strategy, combined 
with a seeming recklessness that gave a courage to the 
troops which made them invincible. 
English society forgives anything but honesty and 
truth, and the name of Nelson had been spit upon 
because of his love for Lady Hamilton. But now danger 
was at the door and England wanted a man. 
Nelson hesitated, but Lady Hamilton said: ** Go yes, 
go this once your country calls and only you can do 
this task. The work done, come home to me, and the 
rest shall be yours that you so richly deserve. Go and 
my love shall follow you! " 

That night Nelson started for Portsmouth, and in four 
days was on the coast of Spain. 

For the next two years and a half he was in the center 
and was one of the controlling spirits of the vast mili- 
tary and naval drama which found its closing scene in 
Trafalgar Bay years which, to Nelson, in spite of the 
arduous duties of his command, constituted the most 
severe and peaceful period of his troubled career. 
The Battle of Trafalgar was fought October Twenty- 
first, Eighteen Hundred Five. At daylight Nelson 
hoisted the signal, " England expects every man to do 
424 



LAD.Y HAMILTON 



his duty," gave the order to close in and the game of 
death began. Each side had made a move. Nelson 
retired to his cabin and wrote this codicil to his will: 

October Twenty-first, Eighteen Hundred Five. 
In sight of the combined fleets of France and Spain, 
distance about ten miles. 

Whereas the eminent services of Emma Hamilton, 
widow of the Right Honorable Sir William Hamilton, 
have been of the very greatest service to my king and 
country, to my knowledge, without ever receiving any 
reward from either our king or country. 
First: That she obtained the King of Spain's letter, 
in Seventeen Hundred Ninety-six to his brother, the 
King of Naples, acquainting him of his intention to 
declare war against England: from which letter the 
ministry sent out orders to the then Sir John Jervis to 
strike a stroke, if the opportunity offered, against either 
the arsenals of Spain or her fleets. That these were 
not done is not the fault of Lady Hamilton: the oppor- 
tunity might have been offered. 

Secondly: The British fleet under my command 
could never have returned the second time to Egypt, 
had not Lady Hamilton's influence with the Queen of 
Naples caused a letter to be written to the Governor of 
Syracuse, that he was to encourage the fleet being 
supplied with every thing, should they put into any 
port in Sicily. We put into Syracuse, and received 
every supply; went to Egypt and destroyed the French 
fleet. Could I have rewarded these services, I would 
not now call upon my country; but as that has not been 
in my power, I leave Emma, Lady Hamilton, therefore, 

425 



LORD NELSON AND 



a legacy to my king and country, that they will give 
her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life 53 
I also leave to the beneficence of my country, my 
daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson; and I desire she 
will use in future the name of Nelson only. 
These are the only favors I ask of my king and country, 
at this moment when I am going to fight their battle. 
May God bless my king and country, and all those I 
hold dear! NELSON. 

Witness Henry Blackwood 
T. M. Hardy 

Nelson ordered the " Tenieraire," the fighting " Tern- 
eraire " the ship of which Ruskin was to write the 
finest piece of prose-poetry ever penned to lead the 
charge, then saw to it that the order could not be 
carried out, for the " Victory " led. 
By noon Nelson had gotten several men into the king- 
row. Three of the enemy's ships had struck, two were 
on fire, and four were making a desperate endeavor to 
escape the fate that Nelson had prepared for them. 
At one o'clock, Nelson's own ship, the " Victory/' 
had grappled with the " Redoubtable " and was chained 
fast to her. Nelson's men had shot the hull of the 
"Redoubtable" full of holes and once set fire to her. 
Then, thinking the vessel had struck, since her gunners 
had ceased their work, Nelson ordered his own men to 
cease firing and extinguish the flames on the craft of 
the enemy. 

Just at this time a musket-ball, fired from the yards of 
426 



LADY HAMILTON 



the ** Redoubtable," struck Nelson on the shoulder 
and passed down through the vertebrae. He fell upon 
the deck, exclaiming to Captain Hardy who was near, 
*' They have done for me now. Hardy my back is 
broken/' 53 33 

He was carried below, but the gush of blood into the 
lungs told the tale: Nelson was dying. He sent for 
Hardy, but before the captain could be found the hur- 
rahing on the deck told that the " Redoubtable ** had 
surrendered. A gleam of joy came into the one blue 
eye of the dying man and he said, " I would like to live 
one hour just to know that my plans were right we 
must capture or destroy twenty of them/' 
Hardy came and held the hand of his friend. " Kiss me, 
Hardy I am dying tell Lady Hamilton that my last 
words were of her good by! " and he covered his face 
and the stars on his breast with a handkerchief, so that 
his men might not recognize the dead form of their 
chief as they hurried by at their work. 
Nelson was dead but Trafalgar was won. 



427 



LORD NELSON AND 




]ADY HAMILTON was unfortunate In having 
her history written only by her enemies 
written with goose-quills. Taine says: " The 
so-called best society in England is notorious- 
ly corrupt and frigidly pious. It places a premium on 
hypocrisy, a penalty on honesty, and having no virtues 
of its own, it cries shrilly about virtue as if there were 
but one, and that negative/* Nelson in his innocence 
did not know English society, otherwise he would not 
have commended Lady Hamilton to the gratitude of 
the English. It was a little like commending her to a 
pack of wolves. The sum of ten thousand pounds was 
voted to each of Nelson's sisters, but not a penny to 
Lady Hamilton, " my wife before the eyes of God," 
as he himself expressed it. 

Fortunately, an annuity of four hundred pounds had 
been arranged for Horatia, the daughter of Lord Nelson 
and Lady Hamilton, and this saved Lady Hamilton 
and her child from absolute want. As it was, Lady 
Hamilton was arrested on a charge of debt, imprisoned, 
and practically driven out of England, although the 
sisters of Lord Nelson believed in her, and respected 
her to the last. Lady Hamilton died in France in Eight- 
een Hundred Thirteen. 

Her daughter, Horatia Nelson, became a strong, excellent 
and beautiful woman, passing away in Eighteen Hun- 
dred Eighty-one. She married the Reverend Philip 
Ward, of Teventer, Kent, and raised a family of nine 
428 



LADY HAMILTON 



children. One of her sons moved to America and made 
his mark upon the stage, and also In letters. The Amer- 
ican branch spell the name " Warde." In England 
several of the grandchildren of Lord Nelson have made 
the name of " Ward " illustrious in art and literature. 
Mrs. Ward wrote a life of her mother, but a pub- 
lisher was never found for the book, and the manuscript 
was lost or destroyed. Some extracts from it, however, 
were published in the London "Athenaeum " in Eight- 
een Hundred Seventy-seven, and the picture of Lady 
Hamilton there presented was that of a woman of great 
natural endowments: a welling heart of love; great 
motherly qualities, high intellect and aspiration, caught 
in the web of unkind condition in her youth, but grow- 
ing out of this and developing a character which made 
her the rightful mate of Nelson, the invincible, Nelson 
the incorruptible, against whose loyalty and honest} 
not even his enemies ever said a word, save that h< 
fell a victim to his love, his love for one woman. 
Loveless, unloved and unlovable Tammas the Titan 
from Ecclefechan, writing in spleen says: " Nelson'* 
unhappy affair with a saucy jade of a wench has sup 
plied the world more gabble than all his victories/ 
And possibly the affair in question was quite as im 
portant for good as the battles won. The world migh 
do without war, but I make the hazard it could no 
long survive if men and women ceased to love anc 
mate. However, I may be wrong. 

429 



LORD NELSON 



People whose souls are made of dawnstuflf and star- 
shine may make mistakes, but God will not judge 
them by these alone. But for the love of Lady Hamilton 
Nelson would probably never have lived to fight Trafal- 
gar one of the pivotal battles of the world. 
Nelson saved England from the fell clutch of the Cor- 
sican, and Lady Hamilton saved Nelson from insanity 
and death. Nelson knew: how to do three great things 
how to fight, how to love, how to die. 



430 



SO HERE ENDETH "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES 
OF GREAT LOVERS," WHICH IS VOLUME THIRTEEN OF 
THE SERIES OF "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES 
OF THE GREAT," AS WRITTEN BY ELBERT HUBBARD. 
THE TYPOGRAPHY, BORDERS AND INITIALS WERE 
DESIGNED BY THE ROYCROFT ARTISTS AT THEIR 
SHOPS, WHICH ARE IN EAST AURORA, NEW YORK 




DO 



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